Wind industry leader says elections improve odds of PTC extension

By Bill Eby

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2012 - The head of the nation's largest wind energy trade organization said Wednesday that the previous day's election results bode well for Congress extending the soon-to-expire production tax credit (PTC) the industry says could cost tens of thousands of jobs.

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said on a media conference call that Tuesday's congressional elections returned a number of wind energy champions to Congress, including a number of House Republicans. She said a vast majority of 30 Republican supporters of the PTC in the House won re-election and that many of the 75 new lawmakers coming to Congress next year are strong supporters of the industry.

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She also said President Obama's victory Tuesday "means the administration's support for the production tax credit will continue uninterrupted."

The PTC is expected to be part of a tax-benefits extension package that will likely be taken up in a lame-duck session of the outgoing 112th Congress set to begin later this month.

Even though little will change in the political party makeup in Washington - Obama will remain in the White House, the Senate will still be controlled by a Democrat majority and the House will remain in GOP hands - Bode said current economic issues will likely give the wind energy PTC, along with many other business-related tax credits and benefits due for renewal, much greater odds of passing.

Failure to adopt the extension package, including the wind PTC, could further "jeopardize" a still fragile economic recovery, she said. AWEA has long cited a study showing the PTC supports up to 37,000 jobs, and that investor uncertainty over the future of the 2.2-cents-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit has already forced some manufacturers to idle plants or walk away from projects, taking out some 4,000 jobs already.

Furthermore, because wind energy "has been part of the election debate at all levels," Tuesday's vote "validates the broad support of wind energy as a major manufacturing sector," Bode said, noting that at least 60 percent of U.S. wind turbine components are manufactured domestically.

She said there is little likelihood that any changes in key administration positions - Energy Secretary Stephen Chu is said to be among Cabinet members who may not stay beyond Obama's first term - would impact the chances of success in getting the PTC extended.

"We have a pretty solid base of support (for the PTC) in Congress, in both the House and the Senate," she said. Bode also said that once the tax credit is extended, the wind industry will work with Congress next year in "any discussion of tax reform or energy policy" to gain a long-term extension of the credit.

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