The decade-old Wind Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) is set to expire at the end of the year if no Congressional action is taken. In Pittsburgh Monday, elected officials, energy executives, and labor leaders urged extension of the PTC, which provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents for every 1,000 watts of wind energy produced.
“If Congress allows the tax credit to expire this year, more than 4,000 good, family sustaining, middle-class Pennsylvania jobs will be lost and 37,000 jobs nationally,” said Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA-14).
Doyle is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and supports extending the PTC.
“If you’ve driven the turnpike, you’ve seen those tall, modern windmills along the way,” he said, “not only are they efficiently producing clean energy, they are also creating demand for steel, and other projects and workers to build and maintain them.”
Doyle was joined by several speakers at a PennFuture event outlining the importance of the PTC. Among them was Dan Lagiovane with EverPower Wind, the owner, operator and developer of wind projects across the US. They currently have two projects in Pennsylvania and two more are in the works. He said the wind industry provides millions of dollars to local communities.
“There’s about 75,000 jobs in the United States, with the threat to the Production Tax Credit that number could he halved real quick,” he said, “but if the tax credit is expanded, we can add up to about 100,000 people in the wind industry. That includes the supply chain and businesses you don’t think are associated with a windfarm.”
The debate has roots in the election
The PTC became an issue in the recent presidential election, when Republican candidate Mitt Romney said he did not support its extension. Last week, the conservative political advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, sent a letter to Congress urging it to let the PTC expire.
“If a new technology truly has worthwhile benefits for American consumers such as lower cost, higher efficiency, or environmental benefits, then that technology will demonstrate its value by competing in the open market for consumers’ dollars—not by living off of special provisions in the tax code. American consumers—not Washington lawmakers—should decide the future of American energy,” stated the letter, which included 88 organizations in the signature.
The letter went on to say such tax provisions distort the energy market and increase energy prices for consumers.
Labor leaders at the PennFuture event disagree, and said the PTC must be extended if the United States wants to decrease dependence on foreign energy and boost prosperity.
“Investing in clean, renewable, and sustainable energy and technology is our best bet to revitalize our economy and rebuild American manufacturing. Whether it’s solar, wind or energy efficiency in our homes and offices, these are the jobs of the future and the right policies will enable their growth for the betterment of our region,” said Fred Redmond, international vice president, United Steelworkers.
A growing fight
Outside of Pennsylvania a bi-partisan group of governors last week sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging the extension of the PTC. The letter from the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition was penned by Iowa Governor Terry Branstand, a Republican and Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat.
“The United States has some of the best wind resources in the world,” wrote the governors, “but the lack of policy stability hinders the nation’s ability to develop them fully.”
Extension of the PTC is rolled into the debate surrounding the avoidance of the so-called fiscal cliff. Supporters say wind energy companies have put on hold expansion projects and new investment as they await the results of the debate.