A recently released study found that with stable tax policy the wind turbines industry can grow to nearly 100,000 American jobs in the next four years, including growing the wind farm manufacturing sector by one third to 46,000 American manufacturing jobs. This will keep the wind power sector on track toward supporting the 500,000 jobs by 2030 projected in a report by the U.S. Department of Energy during the George W. Bush administration.
The report completed by Navigant finds that if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power to expire, jobs in the wind turbines industry will be cut in half, meaning a loss of 37,000 American jobs and a one third cut to American wind energy manufacturing jobs, while private investment in the industry would drop by nearly two thirds.
“American manufacturing jobs are coming back, with tens of thousands of new jobs from wind power,” said Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “But these jobs could vanish if Congress allows the Production Tax Credit to expire, in effect enacting a targeted tax increase, and sending our jobs to foreign countries. Congress must act as early in 2012 as possible to keep this American manufacturing success story going.”
With the support of a stable PTC, 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.
The Navigant study finds that wind energy’s geographically diverse manufacturing base would spread job gains around the country. States that would see significant job and private investment gains from a PTC extension include Colorado, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, North Dakota and Ohio.
But, with a job-killing tax increase on the horizon and the PTC’s future uncertain, businesses are hesitant to plan future US wind farm projects, American manufacturers have seen a drop in orders, and layoffs have already started. For the purposes of the American wind turbines industry manufacturing sector, which needs lead time to make its products, the PTC effectively expires at the end of this year.
Bipartisan 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 Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy (H.R. 3307, the “American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act”). This legislation has garnered the support of 36 cosponsors including 11 Republicans.
This legislation recently received the endorsement of a broad, coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, the Western Governors’ Association, the United Steelworkers and many members of the environmental community. A four-year PTC extension also has the support of the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition comprised of 23 Republican and Democrat Governors from across the U.S.
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 would lead to job losses and will put the brakes on the progress America has made to include clean, affordable, homegrown energy as part of the U.S. electricity portfolio.
Facing the threat of the PTC expiring, wind farm 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 major job losses.