WASHINGTON, D.C. -- AWEA applauded news this week that U.S. Representatives Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), introduced legislation to extend the all-important federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) by four years, through 2016.
Both Reichert and Blumenauer are members of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. The bipartisan American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act, or H.R. 3307, applies to the production of wind power, geothermal power, hydropower, and other forms of renewable energy.
The bipartisan trend continues with the addition of several Republican and Democrat cosponsors including Representatives Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Tom Latham (R-Iowa), Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), John Larson (D-Conn.) and Jim Gerlach (R-Penn.).
Wind power advocates have been calling for the PTC’s extension so that the wind industry, which has become a mainstream source of both energy and jobs, can plan beyond the tax credit’s current expiration date, which is the end of next year. Since its inception in the 1990s, the PTC has been extended mostly in mere one-, two- and sometimes three-year increments, and even has been allowed to expire before getting renewed, creating a boom-bust cycle in one of America’s most promising manufacturing industries.
The PTC helps energy developers raise private funds to bring renewable energy projects to completion. Private investment generated over the last four years of relative PTC stability averages $17 billion a year. Failure to extend the PTC will lead to job losses and will put the brakes on the progress the nation has made to include clean, affordable, homegrown energy as part of the U.S. electricity portfolio, AWEA said.
Facing the threat of the PTC expiring, wind project developers have become hesitant to plan future U.S. projects, and American manufacturers have seen a marked decrease in orders. Thus, the wind industry is facing the recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it saw in previous years when the PTC was allowed to expire. In the years following expiration, installations dropped by between 73 and 93 percent, resulting in significant job losses.
In a statement in support of the bipartisan introduction of the bill, AWEA CEO Denise Bode said, "I want to thank Representatives Dave Reichert and Earl Blumenauer for their leadership in saving and growing American jobs by sponsoring this important piece of legislation. This bipartisan support shows that American wind energy jobs are something that we can all agree are vital for our economic wellbeing and energy security.
“Wind energy is creating one of the fastest-growing U.S. manufacturing sectors. Over the last six years, U.S. domestic production of wind turbine components has grown 12-fold to more than 400 facilities in 43 states, shifting manufacturing jobs from overseas back to the U.S. We should continue growing U.S. wind energy manufacturing jobs rather than lose them to other countries.
“Wind energy means 75,000 jobs across the U.S. today and could support 500,000 American jobs across the country in manufacturing, construction, engineering, development and other fields less than 20 years from now, according to a U.S. Department of Energy study.
“The recent stability of the Production Tax Credit has provided the foundation of wind energy's transformation of a new manufacturing sector based on American ingenuity: wind has supplied more than a third of all new electric capacity in the U.S. over the past four years.
“Surveys consistently show that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of clean wind energy and the Made-in-the-USA jobs that it helps create. Wind energy received 89 percent public approval in a recent poll."
Former U.S. Army General and presidential candidate Wesley Clark, now an energy company executive, said this week in support of the bill, "Wind and other clean domestic energy sources are critical to our national security as global competition for resources intensifies. This bill will keep domestic clean energy manufacturing growing, and strengthen our economic security."
“Extending this long-standing tax incentive will leverage private investment to bring proven energy projects online, bolster domestic manufacturing, and reduce electricity costs for businesses and families,” said Rep. Reichert. “Renewable energy resources play an important and increasing role in America’s total energy supply and reducing our reliance on foreign energy resources controlled by hostile nations. The certainty this bipartisan bill will provide can further spur growth in this vital sector, increase economic development, and create jobs.”
“Tax credits for renewable energy development are an essential part of powering America’s clean energy future,” said Rep. Blumenauer. Investing in the renewable energy industry is vitally important for the American economy, creates jobs, and helps curb America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”
AWEA members are encouraged to contact Members in whose districts their companies have offices, projects or facilities, urging them to cosponsor HR 3307, The American Renewable Energy PTC Extension Act of 2011. Contact information for elected officials is available in AWEA’s Legislative Directory here.
Carl Levesque is the Communications Editor at AWEA. This article first appeared in the AWEA Windletter and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.