As Congress delays in extending PTC, some wind farm developers take aim at Canada

The lack of certainty going forward in the U.S. wind power market due to impending expiration of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) is causing some wind farm developers to look to Ontario for new projects, writes Lindsay Morris in Power Engineering.

Morris specifically quotes Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy Group LP: “We clearly have increased our focus and spending in Canada compared to the U.S. Our Ontario projects help us to continue investing in projects and communities despite the political uncertainty affecting the U.S. market.”

The Canadian province currently has in place a strong Feed-In Tariff (FIT) incentive structure for wind turbines projects that is attracting strong interest from developers. Last year, about 500 MW of new wind power capacity were installed in Ontario, and there is potential for several thousand more, the article said. While this is relatively modest compared with the 9,000-12,000 MW many industry observers expect to be installed in the U.S. this year, it nevertheless is an opportunity to continue doing business in a region with a stable, pro-renewables policy.

Garland’s comments echo those of several participants in a large wind turbine manufacturers’ forum at the recent WINDPOWER 2012 Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta. Those spokespeople pointed out that their multinational companies will be looking to other, more promising markets in the Western Hemisphere and around the world while the U.S. market languishes.

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,