Wind energy advocates push for tax credit extension

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8- The members of the American Wind Energy Association met with their representatives in Congress today to ask them to extend the wind energy industry's production tax credit.

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) expires at the end of 2012, but manufacturers of wind energy say if it's not extended in the first quarter of this year, wind energy jobs could be cut in half. AWEA's goal is to get the PTC extended as a rider to the payroll tax legislation this month. The House and Senate are now laboring over how to offset the cost of extending the tax cut, which expires at the end of February. 

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“The job losses are happening now,” said John Purcell, vice president for Wind Energy at Leeco Steel. “We can't afford to survive this without a PTC. There's too much uncertainty, it needs to happen today.”

AWEA said its goal is to convince Congress members to provide at least a one full year tax credit extension before the end of the first quarter of 2012. 

Bipartisan legislation does exist to support extending the industry's federal tax incentive. Reps. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) introduced The American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act (H.R.3307) last November. This bill has 36 cosponsors, 11 of which are Republican. It also has the support of a coalition of more than 370 members, including the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

The AWEA said that with the threat of the tax credit expiring, “wind project developers have become hesitant to plan future U.S. projects and American manufacturers have seen a marked decrease in orders.”

“Few, if any, developers have projects scheduled for 2013 and many are beginning to lay off employees,” according to a letter signed by Governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, and Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, to the Conference Committee Members drafting payroll tax cut legislation. 

The federal tax incentive is necessary for the wind energy sector at this point. AWEA reported a “boom-bust cycle” in years when the tax credit was allowed to expire. A report from Navigant found that if the PTC expires, jobs in the wind industry would be cut in half. Purcell said he hopes that the industry's growth over the past few years might encourage Congress members otherwise hesitant to support the young industry. 

Wind energy production grew within the last few years, with 60 percent of the value of a wind turbine now produced domestically, compared to 25 percent before 2005. Domestic production includes more than 400 facilities in 43 states, growing 12-fold in the past six years, according to AWEA.  


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