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WindTV: An American family, powered by a paycheck from wind

WindTV: An American family, powered by a paycheck from wind

New video provides snapshot of Central Washington wind farm manager’s family

They are a family that’s becoming increasingly common in the U.S. these days: the American wind power family.

Eric Melbardis, an operations manager at EDP Renewables North America’s Kittitas wind power facility in Kittitas County, Wash., wife Sharon, and daughter Emma recently vacationed in Washington, D.C., “to see our [nation’s] capital,” as Eric says. The Melbardis family and their visit to Washington, D.C.—along with how that city impacts their lives 3,000 miles away—are the subjects of the latest segment of WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) vehicle to highlight how wind works for America.

While in the capital city, the family took the opportunity to visit their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. “We were able to talk to them about what wind energy is doing back in their [Congressional] districts as well as things that we would like to see in the future—like an extension of the PTC,” said Eric.

Melbardis was referring to the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), wind power’s primary policy driver, which is set to expire at the end of the year. Already, factories across America that supply components to the wind power industry are being affected because of the policy uncertainty caused by Congress not having passed a PTC extension yet.

“Our company has projects on the shelf now that we would love to develop, but because of the uncertainty of the PTC, we’re not sure that it’s viable right now,” said Melbardis, echoing the conundrum plaguing wind power developers across the U.S.

In addition to providing clean, affordable energy at locked-in prices, wind power is becoming increasingly known for its ability to create well-paid jobs for Americans, both at wind power projects and in areas with wind equipment manufacturing facilities. But the impending expiration of the PTC is putting this American success story in peril.

“It’s a wonderful position that my husband has,” Sharon says in the video segment. “It allows us to live a wonderful life.”

“The American wind power industry is proud to provide jobs for families like the Melbardises,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “We can do so much more, but the jobs that we have already created are being threatened by the lack of an extension of the Production Tax Credit. The policy uncertainty is rippling down our industry’s supply chain, and so Congress must take action now.”

The quintessential husband-and-wife team, the Melbardises sometimes even finish each other’s sentences on the video. “I love my job,” says Eric. “Looking out my office window, there’s beautiful mountains…and white turbines…and—”

“And elk,” says Sharon with a laugh.

“And elk,” confirms Eric. “Elk that live around the turbines—it’s a good job.”

WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.

To hear more about the Melbardises and how wind power works for America, go to WindTV.

Related articles:

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
Governors' letter urges prompt extension of wind tax incentive
, November 16, 2011

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Carl has been a part of the AWEA team since 2006. He brings both his expertise in communications as well as experience with the evolving wind energy industry to the job of overseeing AWEA's online and written publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, WINDPOWER Update, WINDPOWER Today, and various print materials. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans employed as a teacher as well as working with homeless youth.

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