Cloture attempt on wind energy tax credit fails

After four hours of debate, an attempt to force a vote on a bill that would have increased the state’s production tax credit for renewable electric generation facilities failed May 5.

Currently, renewable generation facilities can apply for a tax credit of .05 cent per kilowatt-hour. LB423, introduced by Omaha Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, would increase the available credit. A sliding scale would be used to determine the credit, beginning at 1 cent per kilowatt-hour during the first two years of operation and reducing by .01 cent every two years until the 10-year tax credit expiration.

Nordquist said the bill would incentivize renewable energy producers to invest in the state.

“If we don’t incentivize these projects, they won’t come here,” he said. “There is no longer a federal tax credit in place so states have to compete and other states do incentivize these projects.”

The bill would add a second method of calculating the tax credit: a one-time credit equal to 30 percent of the total cost of construction of an eligible facility, not to exceed $2 million.

It also would assign annual reporting duties to the state Department of Revenue on the number of facilities receiving the credits and the amount of credits earned and claimed. The tax credit would have a sunset date of Dec. 31, 2021.

Nordquist introduced an amendment, adopted 31-0, which further reduced the proposed tax credit from the bill’s original amount of 1.5 cents to .75 cents per kilowatt-hour generated. It also would limit a facility’s tax credits to $1 million, taken over two years.

The amendment would further limit the total of the state’s new tax credits to $75 million each year.

Omaha Sen. John McCollister supported the amendment, saying that it made the bill better.

“The fiscal impact is still more than what I would have wanted, but this is a good compromise,” he said.

An amendment introduced by Nordquist to authorize the Legislative Performance Audit Committee to regularly audit the renewable energy tax credit program proposed by LB423 was pending when he offered a motion to invoke cloture, or cease debate and take an immediate vote on the bill.

The motion failed 30-12. Thirty-three votes were needed.

A failed cloture motion prevents further debate on the bill for the day. LB423 is unlikely to be scheduled for further debate this session.

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