Wind farm: Fiberglass supplier worries about PTC extension

Cheryl Richards, wind energy global market manager for PPG Industries, told the Shelby Star newspaper that the company’s fiberglass business, threatened in the past by foreign competition, had survived in part by expanding into wind power, where the material is a primary component of wind turbine rotor blades. That in turn kept several hundred workers employed in the Shelby plant, which was opened in 1959 and has been churning out fiberglass ever since.

If the PTC is not extended, she added, PPG will have to reduce its production volume, "and that’s going to impact jobs, for certain … We will see orders slow down, knowing there’s uncertainty in the market … It’s going to slow down and we’re going to feel it.”

The PTC, Richards explained, "brought in $15.5 billion [a year] in private investment. That’s investment in the U.S. That’s investment in jobs, in technology, in the future, in clean energy. If we’re not doing it, there are people over the ocean who will. And they’ll be happy to ship it over here.”

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 101 cosponsors, including 23 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,