This is a guest blog by Steve Krebs, the Vice President of OwnEnergy, cross-posted from OwnEnergy’s website with permission.
It’s that time again – time to do what we can to maintain incentives for renewable energy.
Congress soon returns from recess. They have a lot of work to do. Perhaps their most important job to complete before the end of the year is to extend the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit. Without Congressional action, the renewable energy industry risks losing many of its hard won wind-supported jobs and other economic benefits. We have been here before – we need to press our representatives to support this extension and get out the vote for politicians who will support renewable energy.
“It’s déjà vu all over again”, in Yogi Berra’s famous phrase. Although we in the renewable energy business have been pleading for stable policy for years, we’re in another mad scramble.
At OwnEnergy, we are still spreading the word of benefits of wind projects. However, this time, we decided to do something different. We have formed a PAC, or political action committee. This is a big step for our little company of 21 employees. It lets us combine efficiently our individual voices and funds to amplify our message in support of the industry that we love, as well as, to fight climate change and improve the environment.
As a small developer, it’s unlikely that the OwnEnergy, Inc. Political Action Committee will alone raise enough money to move the needle in any race. However, the cause is vitally important to us, and we’re taking every step we can to ensure the viability of the wind industry.
In short, the political action committee facilitates voluntary donations from our individual team members. It’s the kind of grass roots effort and collective action that American democracy is supposed to be about. Like it or not, money and influence seem to drive public policy. The PAC makes us appear bigger than we are individually. It took only a couple of hours to establish the PAC and on-going compliance will only take a few hours quarterly. Let us know if you are interested in forming a PAC for your company and we’d be happy to share some tips and best practices.
Unfortunately, the wind industry still needs progressive governmental policies to realize its potential. Incentives and favorable governmental policies continue to be necessary to correct for energy market distortions that impose the cost of carbon, fossil fuel pollution and waste on the public and undervalue the health, environmental and stable pricing benefits that clean, renewable wind energy offers. Until these the externalities and costs are internalized in the prices charged for electricity, they are socialized and imposed on every citizen. The Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit attempt to socialize the benefits of clean energy.
These incentives are substantial factors in making wind energy increasingly cost competitive and enabled wind to contribute 5% of the nation’s energy last year, a 500% increase in less than 10 years, and a 58% reduction in the cost of wind energy over the last five years alone. Wind enhances energy security with home grown, clean energy, contributes to lower energy prices to consumers, employs 75,000 in US jobs and fosters robust economic development focused on rural communities.
By supporting the continuance of wind energy, we move closer to cost parity with nuclear and carbon-emitting energy sources, until eventually wind will compete on its own merits and its own economics. This future is not far away. With the continued support of all of us, that day will soon be here.