Members from the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have signed bipartisan letters urging their colleagues to act quickly and extend the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC).
Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, headed the effort. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the letters call on Congress to encourage more private investment by stabilizing the U.S. industry and averting another falloff like 2013's 92% drop in domestic wind power installations.
AWEA notes that the champions of these letters hail from Iowa and Colorado, leaders in wind energy. The group says Iowa is the national leader in wind generation, with over 27% of the state's electricity coming from wind power and over 6,000 Iowans employed in the wind energy sector. Colorado, meanwhile, is a manufacturing powerhouse that has seen over $4 billion of private investment from wind energy and is home to Xcel, the nation's No. 1 wind power provider.
AWEA says at least 559 U.S. factories across the nation that manufacture parts for wind turbines are once again vulnerable since the PTC and ITC – which is of special importance to the distributed and offshore wind sectors – were allowed to expire Jan. 1.
The bipartisan House letter to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was signed by 118 members. It urged "certainty and predictability so that long-term project decisions and investments can be made."
The bipartisan Senate letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was signed by 26 members. It asked that the PTC "be considered by the committee as soon as possible â�¦ to avoid further layoffs and divestment."
"We look forward to Congress, in particular the Senate Finance Committee, acting quickly to extend the PTC and ITC so that the U.S. remains a global leader and our businesses can continue building, expanding and hiring," says Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. "Senators Udall and Grassley and Congressmen King and Loebsack have been tireless advocates for this homegrown American industry, and we thank them for their vision and determination."
AWEA says wind energy has grown exponentially in the last decade, in large part due to the effectiveness of the PTC. From 2005 to 2012, when the PTC was continuously in place, the wind industry grew nine times over, resulting in $105 billion of private investment. Domestic content rose sharply from 25% to 72% from U.S. factories, and jobs reached 80,000, including 30,000 in U.S. manufacturing. However, AWEA says uncertainty over the future of the PTC at the end of 2012 caused private investment to fall from $25 billion in 2012 to $2 billion in 2013.
"Siemens has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in factories in multiple states, and we now employ 1,500 people in the U.S.," comments Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens Energy's Wind Power Americas business. "We continue to make significant progress in closing the cost gap with conventional power generation technologies, but the policy uncertainty is once again a hiccup for further development. Extending the PTC is critical to giving the wind industry the certainty needed to thrive in the long term.’