Wind turbines: CEO, environmentalist call for PTC extension

The CEO of a major construction company and the director of Sierra Club Maine joined recently in an op-ed in the Bangor (Me.) Daily News calling for an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) beyond its scheduled expiration at year’s end.

Jack Parker, who heads the construction firm Reed & Reed, Inc., and Sierra Club Maine’s Glen Brand pointed to the ways in which the wind power industry has benefited Maine:

"During the last decade, Maine’s wind power sector has created thousands of jobs, with more than $1 billion of investment in the state. According to the American Wind Energy Association, in 2010 Maine’s wind industry boosted the state’s economy with nearly $6 million in annual property tax payments by wind project owners, and $1.2 million in annual land lease payments.

"In addition, hundreds of jobs have been created and the economic effect extends to every county in the state. Maine is New England’s leading land-based wind producer and experts predict that we are poised to become one of the nation’s offshore wind leaders in the coming years. Ongoing research and development work at UMaine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center is paving the way."

Parker and Brand called on Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe (R) and Susan Collins (R) to cosponsor S. 2201, a bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that would extend the credit.

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 Sen. Grassley’s bill is cosponsored 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,