N.Y. port sees action due to wind power, PTC

Located on the St. Lawrence river northeast of Lake Ontario, Ogdensburg is a staging center for a wind farm in Churubusco, N.Y., on the state’s far northern boundary.

Interviews conducted by reporter John Friot of the local Fox affiliate, WNNY-TV, tell the story. The project means "70 jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars for the North Country," he says, and Wade Davis, Executive Director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, explains, "There’s anywhere on this project from nine to 11 ships [with] various components, everything from the blades, the nacelles, the hubs and containers. In addition, there’s going to be 210 inbound rail cars with blades coming in from Colorado."

At the same time, Friot adds, the port is building a new port access road in order to handle traffic, and Fred Morrill, the Authority’s Chief Financial Officer, says the Authority’s goal is attract similar projects "on a regular basis" rather than just one every four years (the port last handled parts for a wind farm in the same area in 2008). Those plans, of course, will depend to a large extent on the fate of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), an incentive which has proved an engine of growth for the wind power industry over the past decade.

David Putney, vice president of the area’s International Longshoremen’s Association local, sums it up best in Friot’s report: "[This project is] very important We’re getting money into our local economy … We’re putting men to work, which we need."

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 unless Congress extends it first. A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that extending the Production Tax Credit 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.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 97 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, www.awea.org/blog/