Wind energy: Minnesota’s Rep. Walz seeks PTC extension

Congressman Tim Walz (D-Minn.) called for an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) during a visit to Rochester, Minn., Wednesday, saying the jobs that the wind power industry creates in construction, installation, and maintenance are "homegrown American jobs that can’t be outsourced."

According to the Rochester Post-Bulletin, Walz also referred to recent statements by Republican strategist Karl Rove in support of the PTC and said extending it "is not a political issue, it’s just smart politics."

Added the Post-Bulletin, "At its peak, wind-related installation projects commanded up to 15 percent of the workload of local electricians, according to a group of IBEW [International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union] members. Today, with the expiration looming, that’s down to 5 percent.

"’There are a lot of wind farm projects we’re hearing about that are on hold right now,’ said Dan Goodew, an instructor in the local electrical apprenticeship program, which has about 75 students."

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,