WASHINGTON, D.C. — Most recently, a broad, nonpartisan coalition of 369 members, including manufacturing, farm and business interests, issued a letter endorsing a four-year extension to the Production Tax Credit (PTC), wind energy’s key federal tax incentive. Legislation recently introduced by Representatives Dave Reichert (R, WA-08) and Earl Blumenauer (D, OR-03) seeks to grant a four-year extension to the existing PTC for wind energy (H.R. 3307, the “American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act”).
Signatories to the letter include the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute (the trade group for investor-owned utilities), the Western Governors’ Association, the United Steelworkers and many members of the environmental community.
“Farmers and business people know a good deal when they see one, and that is exactly what clean, affordable, homegrown wind energy provides for the American people,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “With the support of a key federal tax incentive, wind energy is powering one of America’s fastest-growing 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. By extending the PTC we will be able to continue growing U.S. wind energy manufacturing jobs rather than lose them to other countries.”
The letter from the broad-based coalition to congressional leadership is available here.
Earlier in the week, also via a letter to congressional leadership, the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition endorsed the four-year PTC extension legislation and urged Congress to take action on the bill. “The 23 Governors in this coalition are on the front lines of creating jobs and economic development in their states,” Bode said in a statement in response to the governors’ action. “Their broad, bipartisan support of a four-year extension for wind’s key federal tax incentive is yet another indication of how wind energy is generating manufacturing jobs and economic opportunity all across the country.
“Homegrown wind energy now generates 20 percent of the electricity in Iowa year-round, and at times has reliably supplied more than 25 percent of electricity on the main Texas grid and over 55 percent of electricity on the Public Service of Colorado power system. And we are on track to provide 20 percent of America’s electricity — and support 500,000 American jobs — less than 20 years from now. I want to thank the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition for their support of clean, affordable wind energy.”
A copy of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition letter can be found here.
It’s no surprise that governors, famers, and businesses are united on the PTC extension. In addition to its numerous other economic benefits, wind energy powers rural economic development, providing farmers and ranchers with a new cash crop. Landowners can receive lease payments of up to $120,000 over 20 years for each turbine on their property, and rural counties are seeing substantial increases in property tax revenues.
Wind-generated electricity is also keeping consumer rates down all across the U.S. Reasons include stable tax policy, innovative technology, and a sharp increase in U.S.-based manufacturing—which is creating good jobs here in the U.S.
Wind is also an increasing part of the economic landscape and electric portfolio in many states across the U.S. Wind now generates 20 percent of the electricity in Iowa year-round, and at times has reliably supplied more than 25 percent of electricity on the main Texas grid and over 55 percent of electricity on the Public Service of Colorado power system. And wind energy is on track to provide 20 percent of America’s electricity — and support 500,000 American jobs — less than 20 years from now.
Friday’s letter to Congressional leaders signed by the 369 members of the PTC coalition concludes, “Now is not the time to increase taxes on wind energy. The PTC should be extended for at least another four years so that American know-how can keep producing domestic clean energy. When the PTC has expired in the past, installations have dropped between 73 and 93 percent, with corresponding job losses. An expiration at this time would jeopardize this new American manufacturing sector.
“The next few years are critical to ensure that properly sited wind energy is a viable part of a balanced domestic electricity portfolio. We look forward to working with you to continue creating economic opportunities for American communities through clean, affordable, and homegrown wind energy.”
The PTC is a tax incentive that helps keep electricity rates low and encourages development of proven clean energy projects. Private investment generated over the last four years of relative PTC stability averages $17 billion a year.
The wind energy PTC will expire in 2012 unless Congress takes action. Failure to extend the PTC will lead to job losses and will put the brakes on the progress we’ve made as a nation to include clean, affordable, homegrown energy as part of the U.S. electricity portfolio.
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. 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.
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.