Wind power: PTC helps lead to clean energy future

The federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) is an important ingredient of a clean energy future which will bring major benefits to Washington state and the Pacific Northwest, according to the head of a regional policy organization.

In an op-ed in yesterday’s Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review, Renewable Northwest Project (RNP) executive director Rachel Shimshak underlines the positive economic effects clean energy is having on the region:

"Wind energy, solar power and biomass companies have brought nearly $8 billion in capital investment to Washington to date, adding jobs, construction work and economic vitality to our communities during tough economic times. Plus, renewable energy projects have brought nearly $60 million in tax revenues to Washington’s rural counties, supporting schools and community services. This is largely due to supportive policies, such as Washington’s voter-approved Clean Energy Initiative 937 and the renewable energy sales tax exemption.

"New success stories are unfolding. The Palouse wind farm near Oakesdale is expected to create 100 to 200 jobs during construction, and generate $12 million in property tax revenues over the next 20 years. Nearly all of the turbine parts for the Palouse project will be manufactured in the United States at Vestas’s production facilities in Colorado. It will provide enough clean electricity to power more than 30,000 Washington homes."

The policies that make these benefits possible, Shimshak added, include the PTC, which is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. If instead it is extended, it will keep the wind turbines industry on track to support 500,000 American jobs by 2030.

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.

Tom Gray,