This is cross-posted from AWEA's Into the Wind Blog.
As AWEA has been predicting for months, layoffs are mounting in the U.S. wind energy and related industries due to Congress's delay in extending the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).
The PTC is an incentive that reduces taxes on the operators of wind farms and leaves more of the money they earn from electricity sales in private hands, helping to attract private investment not only in wind projects, but in component manufacturers, suppliers, trucking companies and more. As an article on wind in Texas in Monday's San Angelo (Tex.) Standard-Times puts it, "Many other businesses benefit, too, including truckers, hotels, restaurants and hardware stores."
The article quotes Greg Wortham, executive director of the Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse information exchange, on the need for members of Congress to support wind as part of an all-of-the-above national energy strategy: "I can walk and chew gum at the same time: I'm for oil, I'm for nuclear and for natural gas, I'm for the cleanest coal plants in the world, and I'm for wind and solar, and the people we elected can't seem to do that …
"The turbines are staying, the wind service jobs are staying, but people all over the United States, including Texas, tens of thousands of other [wind energy-related] jobs are being lost. Everyone who manufactures something; everyone who transports something and anybody who constructs something are subject to 100 percent layoff."
The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale wind turbines. It is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it first. A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that extending the Production Tax Credit will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration would kill 37,000 jobs within a year.
A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 110 cosponsors, including 25 Republicans, while a similar Senate bill is cosponsored by seven Senators, including three Republicans. PTC extension efforts have received the endorsement of a broad coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Western Governors’ Association. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Governors Association, and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S. A PTC extension has been endorsed by a number of newspapers across the country, including the Des Moines Register, the Denver Post, the Daily Oklahoman, the Toledo Blade, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Sun-Times, and The New York Times.