Wind turbines: Sierra Club’s Hamilton backs PTC, American jobs

"Republicans and Democrats rarely agree on anything these days. But there’s one proposal that both commands bipartisan support and can generate new American jobs during this tough economy," says the Sierra Club’s Dave Hamilton of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

In an opinion article in the Star Democrat (Easton, Md.) newspaper, Hamilton runs the numbers: "The wind power industry has already created 75,000 good American jobs, making it a critical part of the clean energy economy. More than 400 American manufacturing plants build wind turbines components. Wind-powered electricity grew by 25 percent in the past year. Iowa and South Dakota already generate 20 percent of their electricity from wind power, and the industry is on track to power a fifth of America’s grid by 2030."

Hamilton directs the Sierra Club’s Clean Energy Program, which recently launched a Wind Works campaign. More information on the campaign can be found at

If Congress doesn’t move quickly to renew the credit, Hamilton says, years of progress toward developing a new clean energy industry in the U.S. will be jeopardized, as domestic companies lay off skilled employees and foreign companies invest in other countries with more consistent energy policies: "Congress must pass the Production Tax Credit before it’s too late."

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,