News roundup: PTC in Senate Finance bill, Grassley defends wind power, records broken in Texas and Oklahoma

4 April 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

This week was a big one for wind power news, as the PTC made its way into Senate extenders legislation, spearheaded by wind champion Chuck Grassley, while wind energy broke records in two key states.

Senator Ron Wyden’s Finance Committee reinserted the PTC into its new tax extenders law yesterday, recognizing wind power’s contribution to the American economy:

  • The PTC was included in the new “chairman’s mark” that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the panel’s chairman, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), its top Republican, introduced for markup Thursday morning. It was not in the first draft announced Tuesday.
  • The credit was included thanks to an amendment introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). It would extend the PTC for two years, the same period as most of the credits in the legislation.
  • “The wind PTC is an economic engine in Colorado that supports thousands of jobs in our state and tens of thousands more across the country,” Bennet said in a statement. “This extension will boost Colorado’s diverse energy industry and help us remain competitive in the global and changing economy.”
  • If Congress did not renew the provisions, “clean energy would take a blow, threatening good American jobs and our ability to compete on technology with countries like China and Japan,” Wyden said, listing a variety of other consequences.

Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa released a statement lauding wind’s success across the country:

  • “Renewable energy supports thousands of jobs and generates billions of dollars in investment across the country,” Grassley said.  “Public policy continues to help renewable energy develop and generate electricity and fuel from natural resources.  It’s good news for the economy and for energy diversity to restore these provisions.” 
  • The Finance Committee approved the wind energy and biodiesel provisions as part of a package reinstating tax provisions that expired in January.  The Finance Committee chairman and ranking member included the biodiesel provision in their initial proposed bipartisan package.  However, they excluded the wind energy provisions.  Grassley then filed a bipartisan amendment to add the wind provisions.  After hearing from Grassley, joined by other supporters, the committee chairman, Sen. Ron Wyden, accepted the Grassley amendment in a modified package that the committee approved today.
  • An op-ed from Grassley, Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado, and Reps. Steve King and Dave Loebsack of Iowa on wind energy is available here.
  • Watch the exchange between Sen. Grassley and Sen. Toomey, where Grassley steps up to defend wind power. Skip to 2:19:18 for Toomey, 2:21:28 for Grassley's response.

Wind power and new transmission go hand in hand, as more sophisticated systems get power to where it’s most needed. In some places, that’s helping break records for wind generation:

  • Helped by long-awaited investments in transmission infrastructure and new projects, wind power generation hit new highs last month in the regional grids that serve Oklahoma and Texas.
  • Wind power accounted for 7,202 megawatts of electricity March 18 in the Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization that covers Oklahoma and parts of eight other states. That surpassed the previous record of 6,448 megawatts set in October. The data was compiled by the American Wind Energy Association.
  • “It may have taken a few years, but in many parts of the country, the grid is finally catching up with wind energy’s rapid growth,” said Michael Goggin, senior electric industry analyst for the American Wind Energy Association. “These recent wind energy records, and the tens of billions of dollars of new wind energy investment in the pipeline, are a product of those transmission success stories.”

Have a look at guest blogger Jason Dedrick’s post: A new way to visualize the wind energy tax credit.

And be sure to check out all this week’s roundups:

Sources:

Timothy Cama, “New tax bill includes wind energy credit.” The Hill. 3 April 2014.

Staff, “Grassley Secures Renewal of Wind Energy Tax Provisions in Committee-passed Bill.” Office of Senator Chuck Grassley. 3 April 2014.

Paul Monies, “Wind power sets records on Oklahoma, Texas electric grids.” The Oklahoman. 3 April 2014.