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Wind Energy Projects Slow Down Amid Tax Credit Talks

Wind turbines in Lee County
Wind turbines in Lee County

The wind energy industry is anxiously awaiting a decision by Congress. The renewable energy tax credit is due to expire at the end of the month. Advocates say the uncertainty is affecting the status of future wind farm projects.

The looming deadline for the tax-credit has created two situations. Kevin Borgia is with the Illinois Wind Energy Coalition. He says there’s a rush to finish projects already financed. Borgia says it’s completely the opposite for projects still being developed.

"You see a lot of companies that have viable projects that they could build throughout the Midwest, and they're hesitating to move forward to finance those projects and move them forward to construction," Borgia said.

Borgia predicts little growth in 2013 if the tax credits expire. Talks on extending them are caught up in the fiscal cliff negotiations. Supporters say it’s important to keep the $12-billion dollars worth of credits in place. They say 37,000 jobs could be lost nationwide if Congress doesn't approve an extension. But opponents say the subsidy is too costly for the output provided by wind energy.

This comes at a delicate time for the industry. There’s growing backlash in some parts of the country when it comes to wind farms. Lawsuits have been filed over the noise created by the turbines. The industry did get a boost last month, when a bi-partisan group of governors urged Congress to keep in place tax credits for wind energy.