Wind farm: PTC extension passes milestone with 100 cosponsors in U.S. House

The campaign to extend the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC) passed a milestone yesterday, when Congressman Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) became the 100th cosponsor of H.R. 3307, the extension bill sponsored by Congressmen Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

H.R. 3307, the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act, has 22 Republican cosponsors, making it one of the few legislative concepts in Congress to have strong bipartisan support.

Two Cabinet secretaries met with 14 wind turbines industry leaders at the White House recently to discuss how to get the PTC extended before Congress takes its summer recess.

Extension of the tax credit appears on a “To-Do List” for Congress and the administration to act on by August recess to create jobs and help the middle class. The industry has said extension is urgent to keep its 75,000 jobs, a new U.S. manufacturing sector, and $15 billion a year in private investment.

In the past five years of bipartisan policy stability, American wind power has become one of the largest providers of new American electric generation, with 35% of all new power capacity, right behind natural gas. Technology advances have made wind more affordable than ever. A typical wind turbine now generates 30% more electricity, while driving down costs. “Wind power is American ingenuity and entrepreneurship at work,” according to AWEA CEO Denise Bode.

A critical part of the equation: nearly 500 new American manufacturing facilities with 30,000 workers in the wind energy supply chain from coast to coast, whose orders for 2013 now hang on the tax credit’s extension. The Production Tax Credit hasn’t been allowed to expire since 2005. “This is what successful policy looks like when it’s working,” Bode said.

Unless extended by Congress, however, the PTC expires at the end of this year. “Wind farm projects typically have an 18- to 24-month development cycle. So effectively, the PTC is already expiring,” said Bode. “That is why an extension is urgently needed now. We can’t afford to wait until the PTC runs out at the end of the year."

Layoffs are beginning across the industry because of uncertainty about the fate of the incentive, with 10,000 jobs lost expected by year’s end, and 37,000 jobs lost predicted within a year by Navigant Consulting. On the other hand, Navigant said that with predictable policies, wind turbines could grow to 100,000 jobs by 2016, and the Department of Energy has predicted wind power could support 500,000 jobs by 2030.

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

A Senate bill to extend the PTC 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, the Daily Oklahoman, and the Toledo Blade.

Tom Gray,