Panhandle winds may go to waste in the new year, as the expiration of a federal wind energy tax credit threatens an industry slowdown.
"Just like last year, they let it expire on New Year's Eve this year, which means, there could be a slow down in the process," Steve Myers, Executive Director of Class 4 Winds and Renewables said, "Last year after it was not renewed, there was no real construction for about six months in the wind indsutry, anywhere in the United States."
The credit was eventually renewed last year, but as the industry ushers in 2014, once again, the future is uncertain.
According to Myers, this could impact thousands of jobs on the High Plains, with each new farm employing several hundred people during construction.
"Wind's universal. They can go build in Mexico and South America and Australia, New Zealand wherever. They don't have to build in this area," Myers said.
Despite a slowdown in new projects, the winds will keep blowing, and there is a silver lining for the wind industry.
The Texas CREZ lines became fully operational in 2014. These extensive new transmission lines will send wind energy to the South.
"It's all energized, so now we're going to be able to send all this power down state, and basically, the Panhandle's going to reap all the benefits without paying a dime of it," Myers said.
So while new construction may slow down, money to our area will not for the time being.
As for the tax credit, producers will have to wait. Congress meets again Friday, but more than 50 other tax breaks expired on January 1st and are on the table for discussion.
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