From Green Right Now Reports

Congress ended a year of wind industry angst this week by renewing the production tax credit program that has helped sustain the growth of wind energy in the U.S..

The PTC, as its known, had been set to expire at the end of 2012, but was renewed for 2013 as part of the Senate’s “fiscal cliff” package that passed the House of Representatives late Tuesday.

Wind industry leaders say that the pending expiration of the PTC had already forced layoffs at some U.S. manufacturing facilities. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) had predicted that 37,000 jobs could have been wiped out over time if the PTC had not been renewed.

Critics of federal supports for wind energy development have taken a different stance, saying the industry is mature enough to not need subsidies. But clean energy advocates say that would be unfair, noting that fossil fuel industries continue to receive subsidies.

Lawmakers opposed to new spending had held up passage of the PTC.

The renewal, which applies to projects that start construction in 2013, will help insure progress for wind on land and offshore in many regions. All states have a stake in wind energy, having either a wind farm or a manufacturing facility related to the industry, AWEA reported, adding in a news release:

“Wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in America, according to the Energy Information Administration, leading the electric sector compared with 30 percent for natural gas, and lesser amounts for coal and other sources.”