What’s at stake in week when President Obama addresses wind energy workers

Bipartisan support keeps mounting to extend the critical Production Tax Credit that allows U.S. wind power to install 35% of all new U.S. electric generating capacity; create one of the fastest-growing U.S. manufacturing sectors; and put 75,000 Americans to work.

With President Obama going to TPI Composites’ wind blade factory in Newton, Iowa this week, where over 700 people got jobs after Maytag closed a plant there, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) advises White House and political reporters on the following facts.

Bipartisan support

• Supporters in both parties have been raising this issue since late last year as an urgent action item for Congress, including the entire Iowa congressional delegation, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Steve King (R-IA), and Tom Latham (R-IA). Many have cosponsored HR 3307 or S 2201.

• The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau, and Edison Electric Institute are among over 400 organizations and companies endorsing the PTC extension.

• A bipartisan coalition of 23 governors led by Gov. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa) supports extending the PTC. Gov. Branstad recently wrote The Wall Street Journal on its economic benefits.

• Republican, Democratic and Independent voters broadly support wind farm and its expansion.

The wind energy Production Tax Credit

• American wind power’s key federal incentive (the 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour Production Tax Credit, or PTC) only applies to projects that succeed in putting electricity on the grid. It will expire Dec. 31, 2012, unless Congress extends it.

• The PTC has not been allowed to expire since 2005, when President George W. Bush signed it into law as part of the Energy Policy Act.

• This successful policy over the past five years has incentivized $15.5 billion a year on average in private investment in the U.S. U.S. domestic content has expanded from 25% to over 60% today. Wind turbines has installed 35% of all U.S. electric generating capacity, a close second to natural gas.

American wind power

• Using wind turbines to generate utility-scale electricity was invented in America, and a vast U.S. resource of this clean, homegrown energy is still available to be tapped.

• Technological innovation and domestic sourcing has helped drive down costs of electricity for utilities and consumers, since transportation alone can be 20% of the cost of installing a wind turbine.

• Over 470 new American factories currently employ 30,000 workers in the wind energy supply chain from coast-to-coast. But orders for 2013 now hang on the tax credit’s extension.

• Layoffs are beginning across the industry because of uncertainty over the PTC, with 10,000 jobs expected to be lost by year’s end, and 37,000 job losses predicted within a year in a study by Navigant Consulting.

• On the other hand, Navigant said that with predictable policies, wind could grow to 100,000 jobs by 2016. And, the U.S. Department of Energy predicted during the Bush administration that wind could support 500,000 jobs by 2030, and make 20% of America’s electricity.

“Wind farm projects typically have an 18- to 24-month development cycle. So effectively the PTC is already expiring,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “That is why an extension is urgently needed now. We can’t afford to wait until the PTC runs out.”

“Extending the PTC already has broad bipartisan support, but Congress and the President need to act,” Bode said. “Let us finish the job of creating this industry.”