Walter Hornaday, the founder of Austin-based Cielo Wind Power, has been developing wind farms for generating electricity for two decades, but he said he’s never seen the industry in such straits.

He is racing to get an Amarillo-area wind farm operational so he can claim a 10-year federal tax credit that will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress and the White House spare it in a last-minute deal.

“We haven’t had a low mark like this for the industry since the mid-1990s; 2013 is already lost,” he said. “If they were to do something now, it takes a year or 18 months to get a project up and running.”

Continuing the tax credit, created in 1992, has become a bargaining chip in the larger debate in Washington, D.C., over the so-called fiscal cliff of tax increases and budget cuts. The outcome has ramifications in Texas, which leads the nation in wind generation, on everything from the economy to the environment to the competitive balance within the power generation industry.

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