Loebsack receives USA Wind Energy Jobs Champion award, urges PTC extension

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), honored recently with a USA Wind Jobs Champion award from AWEA, called for an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and said the partisan atmosphere in Congress has made it tough to get action on the measure, according to the West Branch (Iowa) Times newspaper.

Added Loebsack, “I’m not afraid to say how bad things are in D.C. If I were not in Congress, I would be writing letters to Congress. But I’m part of it, and I see what’s happening. … It’s leadership on either side. It’s very frustrating.” Loebsack praised Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for fathering the PTC 20 years ago, and noted that all Iowa Representatives and Senators support extending the credit. “We’ve got a lot of challenges, a lot of headwinds — no pun intended … This has to be done quickly.”

Acciona Windpower North America CEO Joe Baker presented the award to Loebsack at the Acciona wind turbine assembly plant in West Branch. West Branch, an Iowa community of 2,300 and boyhood home of President Herbert Hoover, is one of many towns and cities across the Midwest that have benefited from the new manufacturing jobs created by the wind power industry (see Wind turbine and blade makers grow Corn Belt jobs, ClimateWire, April 11).

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 105 cosponsors, including 24 Republicans, while a similar Senate 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, www.awea.org/blog