Exelon official defends PTC position; AWEA defends expulsion

An Exelon (NYSE: EXC) official used a Sept. 18 appearance at a renewable energy conference to defend his company’s opposition to renewing the production tax credit (PTC), a move that annoyed the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which has kicked Exelon out of the trade group.

The PTC “has fulfilled its purpose by getting started the wind industry,” Exelon Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer Bill Von Hoene told the Maryland Clean Energy Summit near Baltimore. Von Hoene said that wind power generation will continue to grow even without the PTC.

Currently, about 30 states and the District of Columbia have some type of renewable portfolio standard (RPS), Von Hoene said.

The Exelon official also said his company still supports tax credits for other renewable energy sources that have yet to experience the commercial success of wind.

The U.S. wind industry now totals 49,802 MW of cumulative wind capacity through the end of the first half of 2012. There are over 10,300 MW currently under construction spanning 30 states plus Puerto Rico, according to the AWEA website.

Von Hoene also cited various figures to show Exelon has credibility as a serious developer of clean energy, including wind. Chicago-based Exelon, which recently merged with Baltimore-based Constellation Energy, has 922 MW of wind and is developing one of the world’s largest solar facilities, the Exelon official said.

Nevertheless, AWEA “has ended our membership” following Exelon’s public position on the tax credit, Von Hoene said.

AWEA: Exelon is publicly leading opposition

As for AWEA, it acknowledges that it ended Exelon’s membership. “Please note that it’s not over a difference of opinion, but rather for publicly leading an organized campaign against the industry’s number one priority,” said an AWEA representative Peter Kelley.

AWEA said that Exelon is leading “an organized campaign to kill the Production Tax Credit” and renewing PTC “is our industry’s number one priority,” AWEA said.

AWEA’s decision to expel Exelon was revealed to the company Sept. 7.

Exelon has called it unfortunate that AWEA voted Exelon out of the association. “Exelon has been an active member of AWEA but disagreed with other AWEA members on the extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC) which is scheduled to expire this year.  The PTC is no longer needed and distorts competitive wholesale energy markets causing financial harm to other, more reliable clean energy sources,” according to Exelon.

The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per KWH of renewable power generated. AWEA said Sept. 18 that 19 companies, including many major consumer brands, have endorsed extension of the tax credit. The tax credit was first signed into law by President H.W. Bush.

Speaker touts clean energy growth

As for Exelon, Von Hoene also used the speech to tout success of the merger with Constellation and the combined company’s relatively light carbon footprint. Exelon gets 55% of its energy from nuclear; 28% natural gas and 9% from “other clean generation,” the official said.

Exelon is building 404 MW of wind generation in 2012. It also might develop or buy another 500-to-1,000-MW over the next five years, Von Hoene said.

Through Constellation, Exelon has a strong history of providing renewable energy in Maryland, Von Hoene said. This includes a 16-MW solar project in Emmitsburg, and the 70-MW Criterion wind project in Garrett County.

The company is also pumping $32m into offshore wind research, including $2m earmarked for a Maryland university, Von Hoene said.

Exelon is also well on its way toward a goal, announced in 2008, of eliminating its carbon footprint.

Von Hoene delivered a keynote address to the conference that drew about 300 people at a hotel near the airport.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.