By Frank Saverino
With the failed proposal of the Keystone XL pipeline extension in the Senate revving up climate change, energy efficiency and independence dialogue in the United States, Congress will look to decide whether to extend another key green policy: the Production Tax Credit. The PTC would benefit growing wind power and turbine industries across the nation.
The law benefits these electric companies across the grid by keeping utility rates low and encouraging better and cleaner green innovations from the companies and entrepreneurs who receive the break from the government. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) fully supports an extension of the PTC, claiming that wind powered turbines and mills efficiently generate cleaner energy from a natural resource rather than fossil fuels. They also create more jobs that stay in the U.S. every year. Wind power and turbine industries are continuing to progress in the U.S., but without the PTC, the AWEA warns that wind power companies will face severe cutbacks and layoffs.
The law is either reauthorized or declined every two years, and at the end of 2012, Congress stalled over the issue and continued to do so until it automatically expired at the end of 2013. Now, the PTC is up for extension again, and it is facing both strong support and opposition in Congress.
Several states have seen great results in investing in wind power. According to the Huffington Post, states like Colorado, Iowa and South Dakota have over 20 percent of their energy outputs covered by renewable wind energy. The AWEA cites that the PTC has helped jumpstart over 550 U.S. manufacturing facilities across the states which produce and deliver the parts needed to power currently over 15 million homes using wind renewables. Past discontinuations of the law have halted development plans and cost American manufacturing jobs for wind power companies, and the AWEA has urged Congress to issue a four-year extension of the PTC. A study by Navigant Consulting found that the PTC will keep and create 54,000 jobs for the U.S. Without the PTC, American manufacturers in wind industries will likely face severe layoffs.
The greatest opposition to the PTC is competing fossil fuel or natural gas-based electric companies, which will face the downside of the growth of renewable electricity by wind power. Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) has upheld that the increase in wind energy development has been over-sighted by the government. This is because the new tax credit for wind energy would largely outweigh the price that the standard electric output would cost a wind power company.
In his letter to Congress, Pompeo states that while “over 43 percent of all electric generation nameplate capacity additions in 2012 were from wind … this increase in wind development is occurring despite flat demand for power and is straining the electric grid and threatening reliability with a dramatic increase in an intermittent power resource.”
Pompeo echoes the concerns of competing electric industries as wind power advocates continue to call for an extension of the PTC starting next year.