Wind energy: Sec. Salazar, Montana Gov. Schweitzer call for PTC extension

According to an Associated Press story, the two said that uncertainty created by the credit’s impending expiration at year’s end is keeping businesses from planning investments and creating jobs.

The story quoted Mr. Schweitzer as saying that some 50 potential wind farm projects in Montana could be affected by Congressional action on the PTC. As of the end of 2011, the state had 386 megawatts (MW) of wind turbines generating capacity installed, only a tiny fraction of its estimated potential of 994,000 MW. Even so, Montana’s wind farms produce property tax revenue of $5.7 million annually, as well as payments of more than $1.1 million yearly to ranchers and other landowners.

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 100 cosponsors, including 22 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, the Daily Oklahoman, and the Toledo Blade.

Tom Gray,