Leaders of a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill joined the U.S. wind power industry yesterday to sound an urgent call for the House Ways and Means Committee to find a vehicle as soon as possible for extending the successful federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC)—and avert thousands of layoffs already beginning in factories across America.
U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), Steve King (R-Iowa), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) spoke with reporters about the bipartisan support for the PTC in Congress and the need for swift passage of the measure. The Congressmen were joined by Steve Lockard, CEO of TPI Composites, a U.S. company manufacturing wind blades at a factory in Newton, Iowa.
“Our company has created more than 700 new jobs in Newton, and a second wind energy company there now employs over 100 people,” Lockard said. “Our industry can do the same in hard-hit towns all across the U.S., if Congress will let us and doesn’t increase taxes on wind power next year.”
Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), asked House members to insist on swift action on the tax credit. Bode also released new AWEA graphics illustrating the quarter-by-quarter falloff in U.S. wind energy employment from the 75,000 jobs at the start of the year, as wind turbine orders peak around mid-year amid uncertainty over the tax credit. A full 37,000 American wind turbines industry workers could be laid off over the course of this year if Congress does not take action.
“Timing is everything,” she said. “Our situation is urgent because we’re already seeing the loss of over $15 billion a year in private investment in America, and 37,000 U.S. jobs that depend on early extension of the Production Tax Credit.”
“Energy is an economic and national security priority and a bipartisan issue,” said Congressman Reichert. “The certainty that extending the PTC provides can and will spur growth and development, reduce electricity costs and create jobs. The PTC makes American workers competitive with their counterparts overseas so that American households can look forward to a future of affordable energy.”
“It is vital that the U.S. continue its support for wind energy, which supports manufacturing jobs, drives innovation, protects our environment, and improves our energy security,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “Extending the production tax credit is an important step that Congress can take now to preserve these benefits for the future.
"Iowa is a wind energy success story,” said Congressman King. “Iowa was the first state to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind farm. Now, wind turbines supports as many as 5,000 Iowa jobs, and $11 million in annual land lease payments to Iowa farmers. This success story is spreading across the country because wind turbines industry leaders know how to expand this business and provide more U.S. jobs. They just need Washington to provide stable, low tax rates. The Production Tax Credit means keeping investment dollars in the market place–not in the hands of government. Now is the time for stability in the wind industry and the PTC offers just that."
American wind power has generated $15 billion to $20 billion a year in private investment over the past five years, in the process becoming one of the fastest growing U.S. manufacturing industries. But with the tax credit that is wind power’s primary policy driver set to expire at the end of the year, the supply chain is already feeling the uncertainty, and layoffs have now begun.
A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that extending the Production Tax Credit for wind energy will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration would kill 37,000 jobs within a year.
Wind power fosters economic development and job creation while providing affordable energy. Nearly nine out of 10 voters—Republicans, Democrats and Independents—agree that increasing the amount of energy the nation gets from wind power is a wise choice.
The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale turbines. It is set to expire on Dec. 31.
A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 93 cosponsors, including 21 Republicans, while a Senate bill to extend it was introduced March 15 by seven Senators, including three Republicans. PTC extension efforts have 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. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Governors Association, and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S. A PTC extension has been endorsed by a number of newspapers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, the Denver Post, and the Daily Oklahoman.
By Peter L. Kelley, American Wind Energy Association VP-Public Affairs, www.awea.org/blog