Wind energy: Citing ‘all of above,’ former FERC chair urges PTC extension

In a Daily Caller op-ed Wednesday, Joseph T. Kelliher, who chaired the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for four years after being appointed to it by President George W. Bush, called for an extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC).

Kelliher, now a senior executive with NextEra Energy, urged support for the PTC as part of an "all of the above" energy strategy to ensure a diversified U.S. energy supply for the long-term future:

One hundred years ago, Winston Churchill explained the importance of diversity in oil supply to the British Empire by saying, “On no one quality, on no one process … must we be dependent. Safety and certainty in oil lie in variety and variety alone.” If you substitute “electricity” for “oil,” you have the foundation of a sound energy policy for the United States …

Without public policy support for a diverse electricity supply, the U.S. risks staggering down a volatile path of price shocks and insecure supply. We would adopt a herd mentality, betting on whichever fuel or technology looked cheapest at the time. We would follow price changes, not anticipate them, lunging from one fuel to the next, based solely on short-term price outlook. Electricity supply changes would display all the discipline and foresight of a binge drinker.

Kelliher added that Republicans have long accepted that free markets sometimes fall short when it comes to ensuring energy security and diversity–President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation to support nuclear power, and George W. Bush’s backing of loan guarantees for nuclear is a major factor in that industry’s current revival: "Diversity of electricity supply is not a Republican or a Democratic concept, it is mainstream policy shared by both parties for many years."

While the wind power industry has expanded dramatically over the last decade and brought new manufacturing jobs to the U.S., Kelliher said, the industry will be seriously disrupted if the incentive is not extended beyond its current scheduled expiration at the end of this year.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 85 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,