Wind energy: BP’s Landis calls for PTC extension

BP Alternative Energy CEO Katrina Landis, pointing to the wind power industry’s success in reducing costs and the need for business certainty going forward, yesterday urged that the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) be extended beyond its scheduled expiration at the end of this year.

Landis made her remarks in an interview with Bloomberg News at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in New York City. A separate interview with Bloomberg Television is also available.

Landis called the PTC "a really compelling example of a technology and an incentive program that’s working," with the price of electricity generated from wind coming down substantially over the past 20 years. "As an example," she said, "[wind] turbines which are available to market today have shown a 20 percent improvement in technology costs as result of advances that are being made in the blades … It’s a really compelling case of the government incentivizing the development of an industry … that is actually really working … "

She said her firm is focusing on two "very strategic businesses" in the realm of renewable energy, land-based wind power and ligno-cellulosic technology for advanced biofuels. Of wind, she added, "We now have 13 operating wind farms, and in January of this year we produced enough clean electricity to power the entire city of Chicago. We’re really excited about … the ability to build low-carbon, low-cost, sustainable and competitive businesses for the future."

Landis said that at the moment, turbine manufacturers are shifting their focus to countries like Brazil where there is more certainty of ongoing support for wind farm investment. She said the PTC amounts to $3.2 billion annually and is attracting $16 billion in private investment each year, and noted that when a new industry is being created, the companies investing (over $80 billion to date in U.S. wind farm) need some certainty of being able to earn a return on their investment.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 79 cosponsors, including 18 Republicans, and has 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, and the Western Governors’ Association, while a Senate bill to extend it was introduced March 15 by seven Senators, including three Republicans. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.

Tom Gray,