This article was submitted to the National Journal's Energy Experts blog in response to a discussion question on whether the renewable energy industries face a 'bust' in the future after the boom of recent years.
Boom-and-bust is extremely disruptive to new, growing industries. Instead of making strategic business plans and executing them, companies are forced to lay off skilled employees for indefinite periods and then recall them later or hire and train new workers–a colossal waste of money and time and a wrenching economic hardship for workers and their families, particularly at a time when the overall economy is still struggling.
The Brookings-WRI-Breakthrough report has many useful and valuable things to say about long-term energy policy, and the U.S. certainly needs such a policy, as we have pointed out repeatedly, to seize a foothold in the new growth industry of wind equipment manufacturing and keep jobs from being outsourced to other countries. Still, while we grapple with the difficult process of building a consensus around a new energy policy in a highly partisan political atmosphere, we need to urgently address short-term needs like an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) as well, to avoid serious harm to industries that can contribute to that long-term policy.
The wind power industry shows what can be done with stable policy. In the past five years of bipartisan policy stability, American wind power has:
o Brought in as much as $20 billion annually in private investment to the U.S.
o Created one of the largest providers of new American electric generation with 35% of all new power capacity, right behind natural gas.
o Driven technology advances that have made wind more affordable than ever. A typical wind turbine now generates 30% more electricity – all while driving down costs.
o Created nearly 500 new American manufacturing facilities and employed 75,000 overall, including 30,000 in the manufacturing sector, from coast to coast.
o Produced enough electricity last year to power the entire state of Michigan.
Unlike many other energy policy and legislative provisions, an extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit has strong bipartisan support. Extension legislation introduced in the House by Congressmen Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) currently has 97 cosponsors, including 22 Republicans, and was strongly supported by Members testifying during a recent House Ways and Means Committee hearing. A Senate bill to extend it was introduced March 15 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, the Edison Electric Institute, 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 Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, the Denver Post, the Daily Oklahoman, and the Toledo Blade.
Congress should act now to extend the PTC and avoid further harm to one of the country's most promising new energy options. Let wind finish the job of building a new manufacturing industry and making the most of an abundant, affordable, clean, domestic resource.
Iowa newspaper endorses wind PTC extension, May 14, 2012
Toledo Blade becomes latest newspaper to endorse PTC extension, May 11, 2012
PTC, wind power bring cost savings to Iowa utility customers, May 10, 2012
N.Y. port sees action due to wind power, PTC, May 9, 2012
Tax payments to S.D. counties illustrate impact of wind tax credit, May 8, 2012
PTC extension part of 'all of above' policy, says sponsor Reichert, May 7, 2012
PTC extension: Why the stakes are so much bigger this year, May 4, 2012
Sen. Bennet: Congress 'not doing job' on PTC extension, May 3, 2012
Veterans training co. officer: PTC extension good for vets, economy, May 2, 2012
NW policy group: PTC helps lead to clean energy future, April 30, 2012
Congressman Thompson, veterans, industry experts call for PTC extension, April 27, 2012
Layoffs in U.S. wind power accelerate as Congress fails to act on PTC extension, April 26, 2012
Submit a comment to the House Ways & Means Committee: Extend the PTC immediately!, April 25, 2012
High-tech component manufacturer calls for PTC extension, April 24, 2012
Union leader: Earth Day is also about jobs, and a PTC extension, April 23, 2012
New graphics reveal impact of impending PTC expiration on wind industry, April 20, 2012
'Think globally, act locally': News items underscore PTC and manufacturing jobs, April 19, 2012
Senator Levin visits Michigan wind component maker, urges PTC extension, April 18, 2012
Wind power drives strong interest in U.S. renewable electricity generation, April 17, 2012
WindTV: WINDPOWER in Atlanta, spotlighting PTC expiration risk to manufacturing growth, April 16, 2012
AWEA Annual Market Report underscores need for PTC extension, April 13, 2012
Iowa city prospers, hopes for PTC extension, April 12, 2012
Denver Post editorial writer: PTC extension 'important to nation, Colorado,' April 11, 2012
From Nevada, Michigan, Montana: Calls for PTC extension, April 10, 2012
Sierra Club, BP agree: Extend the PTC, April 9, 2012
South Dakota newspaper joins others in endorsing PTC, April 6, 2012
National Governors Association: Extend the PTC, April 6, 2012
Sen. Bennet tours factories, pushing jobs and PTC extension, April 5, 2012
WindTV Holiday Special: Church lives mission with wind power, April 4, 2012
Montana county commissioners call for PTC extension, April 3, 2012
'Father of PTC' explains wind incentive's value, March 30, 2012
Citing 'all of above,' former FERC chair urges PTC extension, March 29, 2012
Manufacturers tell Senate panel: PTC extension urgently needed, March 28, 2012
WindTV: Colorado county gets big boost from wind power, March 26, 2012
Former Congressman Boucher sees PTC extension likely, March 26, 2012
WindTV: Wind power breathes new life into small Colorado town, March 21, 2012
Citing need for certainty, BP's Landis calls for PTC extension, March 20, 2012
In op-ed, Kansas Governor, Senator call for PTC extension, March 19, 2012
Bipartisan group of Senators introduces bill to extend PTC, March 16, 2012
Houston Chronicle editorial supports PTC extension, March 15, 2012
Southern Alliance head urges: Extend the PTC, March 14, 2012
WindTV: Missouri manufacturer grows with the wind, March 12, 2012
Oklahoma and America need wind technicians–and a PTC extension, March 8, 2012
WindTV: An American family, powered by a paycheck from wind, March 5, 2012
Salazar, citing 'race we cannot cede', backs extending PTC, March 1, 2012
Kerry, Brown win praise for bipartisan support of PTC extension, February 29, 2012
Wichita Eagle editorial blog endorses PTC extension, February 28, 2012
Daily Oklahoman: PTC extension “makes sense,” February 27, 2012
Bipartisan group of Illinois Representatives supports PTC extension, February 24, 2012
Kansas City Star backs PTC extension, praises Brownback, Moran, February 23, 2012
Bennet visits composites factory, urges PTC extension, February 23, 2012
Moran visits Siemens factory, pushes PTC extension, February 22, 2012
WindTV: PTC key to wind power manufacturing jobs, February 21, 2012
Topeka Capital-Journal: Extend the PTC, February 21, 2012
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA): PTC is jobs engine conservatives should support, February 17, 2012
Bennet, Moran continue bipartisan push to extend PTC, February 16, 2012
Major U.S. consumer brands like Nike on extending the PTC: Just Do It!, February 15, 2012
Oklahoma Gov. Fallin urges conferees: Extend the PTC, February 15, 2012
Michigan worker's plea: Extend PTC, help wind power create U.S. jobs, February 13, 2012
Bipartisan letter from entire Iowa Congressional delegation urges: Extend the PTC, February 10, 2012
Senate Energy Chairman Bingaman: Act now to save clean-energy jobs, February 9, 2012
Bipartisan letter from Colorado Congressional delegation urges: Extend the PTC, February 8, 2012
Republican governors push for PTC extension; Senators express support, February 2, 2012
U.S. Chamber of Commerce joins broad range of groups endorsing PTC extension, February 1, 2012
WindTV: Wind power drives commerce in small-town America, January 24, 2012
Denver Post endorses PTC extension 'sooner rather than later', January 18, 2012
WSJ op-ed: 'Want Growth? Try Stable Tax Policy', January 5, 2012
Red State Energy, Red State Jobs, November 29, 2011