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GE says tax changes fuel 1 gigawatt of new wind orders

(Reuters) - General Electric Co said on Monday the renewal of the U.S. production tax credit has helped it sell wind turbines with 1 gigawatt of generating power since January.

The credit, a key lifeline for the nascent wind power industry, was caught up in fiscal cliff negotiations in the U.S. Congress at the end of last year, and for a time it was unclear whether it would be renewed. Congress renewed it shortly after the new year began.

The tax break provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity produced by utility-scale wind turbines, helping it compete with power generated from cheap fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

One gigawatt of power is enough energy to power 139,000 homes.

The uncertainty of the credit's renewal had weighed heavily on GE's sales, and some customers had curtailed wind projects late last year and in early January.

Weak power demand is also harming wind turbine sales.

GE's competitors in the wind turbine sector include Vestas Wind Systems A/S , Siemens AG and Gamesa Wind Corp.

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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