Bipartisan group of lawmakers urge extension of PTC

A group of bipartisan lawmakers joined many veterans, who have found post-military careers in the wind industry, on Nov. 28 to urge extension of the production tax credit (PTC).

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., along with Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., led a press conference on the issue.

“It’s a truly bipartisan and bicameral cause,” Udall said. The Colorado Democrat hailed Grassley as ‘the father” of the wind tax credit. Grassley authored the production tax credit for wind when it was first passed in 1992.

Both senators bemoaned the recent layoffs in wind power equipment manufacturing, which they tied to uncertainty about the tax credit.

“I spent 25 years in the business before coming to Congress,” McNerney said in his comments. The lawmaker from California said he has seen a dramatic increase in wind power efficiency and cost-effectiveness over the years.

King stressed that the cost of wind powered electricity has steadily declined over time. “Market access” is the key to renewable power, King said. The Iowa lawmaker said that the PTC provides the wind industry with regulatory stability.

In August, the Senate Finance Committee, on a bipartisan vote, passed an amendment authored by Grassley to extend the wind energy production tax credit.  Legislation in the House of Representatives to extend the production tax credit for wind has 118 cosponsors, both Democrats and Republicans, according to a news release.

Grassley said the production tax credit for wind is available only when wind energy is produced. There’s no benefit for simply placing the turbine in the ground. “It’s tax relief that rewards results,” Grassley said. “That’s much different than failed taxpayer-funded grants and loans made since 2009.” The senator said wind energy detractors have blurred the distinction in efforts to undercut wind as a source of clean electricity.

If the wind incentive is allowed to lapse on Dec. 31, wind energy would be the only form of energy generation without any federal incentive, the lawmaker said.

The press event was held in coordination with “Operation Free,” a coalition of veterans who see climate change as a major threat. Operation Free is a campaign of the Truman National Security Project. The Truman project is designed to recruit and train political progressives on national security issues.

The PTC is scheduled to expire Dec. 31. Exelon (NYSE: EXC), a major wind generator, has said the wind power industry could survive without the tax credit.

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.