Wind power: Aberdeen American News, Pacific Coast Business Times join call for PTC extension

Citing potential impacts on their local economies, both the Aberdeen (S.D.) American News and Pacific Coast Business Times (Santa Barbara, Calif.) in recent days have joined a long list of newspapers around the country endorsing an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

In backing the PTC, the Aberdeen American News pointed to local manufacturer Molded Fiber Glass, which makes wind turbine blades and employs 400 in the city. Molded Fiber Glass, it added,

– "Spends more than $2.82 million in South Dakota each year

– "Pays $1 million in property and sales tax each year

– "And has a $16 million annual payroll in Aberdeen."

Said the editorial, "Not knowing the fate of the credit is keeping [the firm] from planning for the future … Supporting ethanol and oil is fine, in some cases, but a diversified strategy on energy production needs to include wind power. Let’s see some leadership on this issue."

The Pacific Coast Business Times, meanwhile, noted the presence in its area of consulting firm Infinity Wind Power, turbine manufacturer Clipper Windpower, and inverter manufacturer Power-One: "[T]he stakes for our area are not small. Indeed, with tax credits in place a number of area agribusinesses may want to take a plunge on smaller scale wind farm projects; many experts believe that four more years of tax credits should suffice to make wind turbines competitive with conventional power—absent a total and extended collapse in the price of oil and natural gas."

The publication also noted Republican political strategist Karl Rove’s statement of support for the PTC at WINDPOWER 2012: "In a rare display of bipartisanship, Rove, generally recognized as the architect of President George W. Bush’s campaigns, joined Robert Gibbs, a key confidant of President Barack Obama, in advancing the cause of a tax credit for wind power development."

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,