Senate Energy Chairman Bingaman: Act now to save wind energy jobs

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called for extension of clean-energy tax credits including the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) in an opinion article today in The Hill.

In a plea stressing the urgency of the tax incentives, Bingaman echoed concerns expressed repeatedly by American Wind Energy Associatio in recent months, saying in part, "Failure to extend tax incentives for clean energy now will result in jobs lost, reduced U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in a growing, multitrillion-dollar market and a blow to our economic recovery. Despite recent years of solid growth, several industries — including the wind power, biofuels and energy efficiency sectors — have already begun cutting workers. Unless Congress acts immediately, more layoffs are inevitable …

"These clean-energy jobs are made in America. As a recent Congressional Research Service report detailed, the United States now has more than 420 wind turbines component manufacturing facilities in 43 states. The domestic content of wind turbines installed in the United States is now greater than 65 percent. This means more U.S. manufacturing jobs today and a robust domestic supply chain that will keep the industry here for years to come."

Sen. Bingaman noted that during hearings before his committee, the tax incentives were strongly supported by both business and environmental groups, and said Congress’s failure to act quickly on the provisions is creating uncertainty that is damaging markets for clean-energy technologies. He also pointed to the bipartisan support that the PTC has received, referring specifically to a letter of support signed by the entire Iowa Congressional delegation and a letter backing the PTC from Republican governors Terry Branstad of Iowa and Sam Brownback of Kansas.

Sen. Bingaman concluded, "By not supporting these industries — that is, by not offering the certainty and predictability that businesses need — we are making a decision to abandon young, promising companies that have already created tens of thousands of jobs. Generous federal subsidies for traditional fuel sources have led to substantial private investment and broad access to those sources across the country. For our future, and for the present, we must ensure that these new home-grown industries providing clean, domestic energy can attract similar investments and maintain their lead on the international competition."

Tom Gray,