Denise Bode CEO, American Wind Energy Association – Americans want more wind power

The American wind energy industry thanks Reps. Thompson, Blumenauer, and Holt, along with Sens. Cantwell and Feinstein, for their leadership in Congress this week to extend the 1603 Investment Tax Credit that helped galvanize our industry to 40% of all new electric generation last year, and saved 55,000 American jobs even in the depth of the recession.

Momentum continues to build in support of clean energy. This bipartisan support is consistent with what the American people want and America needs — polling this year by Neil Newhouse and Amy Bennett found more than 80% of Americans (Republican, Democratic, and Independent) support clean energy and want more wind power.

The Bush administration predicted that wind energy could produce 20% of the nation’s electricity just 20 years from now, and employ half a million Americans.

We are well on our way to that 20% thanks to this tax credit, which has helped create a $20 billion American wind energy industry with 85,000 jobs and 400 manufacturing wind turbines facilities. Wind farm now generates 20% of the electricity in Iowa, and has generated as much as 25% of the electricity in Texas. That is only a fraction of what’s possible if this tax credit is extended.

We use tax credits all across the economy to encourage development that’s good for America. We know this tax credit saved 55,000 jobs in the wind power industry last year, according to the DOE’s Berkeley National Laboratory.

This tax credit should be extended, or else tens of thousands of U.S. workers will be at risk for losing their jobs, and others won’t be called back from layoffs that have already taken place because of uncertainty over this government policy.

In a nation still recovering from a ruinous recession, letting this very successful policy lapse would be a mistake of historic proportions.

Michigan, for example, a state with the second highest unemployment rate and fifth highest foreclosure rate, has been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn but this week we saw the announcement of an agreement between utility Consumers Energy and Traverse City-based Heritage Sustainable Energy that will result in the first large-scale production of utility-scale wind turbines fully made in Michigan.

In Kansas last week, a plant to make the nacelle – the most valuable portion of wind turbines – opened that will employ 500 Americans, but only with an extension of the 1603 tax credit.

Already other manufacturers have announced or are discussing opening additional plants to support these and the 400 other American wind turbines manufacturing plants, creating more American jobs – but that will only happen if the 1603 tax credit is extended.

These stories are being repeated across America as ingenuity and entrepreneurship is turned loose on the problem of making our own clean electricity here at home. But these young roots of the wind energy industry — the roots that will create jobs and new American industry in hard-hit states like Michigan — are being threatened only because not enough lawmakers understand the stakes, and so may not extend the tax credits so crucial to the industry.

We are happy to have the chance to change that today, and set loose the industry that can employ half a million Americans and make 20% of the nation’s electricity within 20 years.