Last week, President Obama visited wind turbine blade manufacturer TPI Composites in Newton, Iowa, where he expressed his support for clean energy incentives, including an extension of the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power.
The president spoke of his ‘To Do List’ for Congress, which includes initiatives to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. as well as to extend the wind energy PTC and the Section 48C clean energy manufacturing tax credit.
Obama has made jobs the focus of his PTC-extension pitch to Congress, and that's exactly what he did in his remarks in Iowa – the leading state in the country for wind jobs.
TPI Composites CEO Steve Lockard has been vocal in recent PTC-extension efforts.
"Every month of delay will mean additional manufacturing job losses in the U.S., and action is really an urgent need at this time," he said at a press call hosted by the American Wind Energy Association last month. Lockard also spoke at an event held at the White House last week to garner support for the PTC.
When speaking at TPI Composites, the president highlighted the industry's progress to date – especially in Iowa, which gets 20% of its electricity from wind power.
"We used to have just a few dozen manufacturing facilities attached to the wind industry," Obama said. "Today, we have nearly 500 facilities in 43 states employing tens of thousands of American workers."
However, those jobs are in danger of being lost if the PTC is not renewed, Obama stressed.
"So I'm here today because, as much progress as we've made, that progress is in jeopardy," he said. "If Congress doesn't act, those tax credits that I mentioned – the ones that helped build up the wind industry, the ones that helped to bring all these jobs to Newton – those tax credits will expire at the end of the year if Congress doesn't do anything.
"If Congress doesn't act, companies like this one will take a hit," Obama continued. "Jobs will be lost. That's not a guess – that's a fact. We can't let that happen."
Obama also emphasized that clean energy tax credits should not be a partisan issue. In fact, one of the biggest proponents of the wind PTC is Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who was the first-ever author of PTC legislation and recently introduced a bipartisan bill to extend the wind energy PTC for another two years.
"And by the way, this should not be a partisan issue," Obama stated. "There are several Republican governors – including the governor of this state – who are calling on Congress to act. There are members of Congress in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle – including your two senators – who support these tax credits.
The president did not seem too optimistic, however, that Congress would be able to agree on legislation for clean energy tax credits, so he concluded his remarks with a call to action.
"I need you to help get this done," he said. "I need everybody here in Newton – and I mean everybody – I don't just mean folks who work at TPI. Anybody who's watching, everybody here in Iowa – pick up the phone, send an email, send a tweet, tell Congress – let's do the right thing."