Immediate wind tax credit extension urged

Now that the election is over and wind energy advocates won in both parties up and down the ballot, the industry is calling for an immediate extension of a federal tax credit that is due to expire at year’s end.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is seeking Congressional action to extent the production tax credit (PTC) in a lame duck session later this month. The organization has sought an extension of the credit for wind energy generation all year without success. But with the election over and Congress poised to address a multitude of tax issues, AWEA wants wind energy included in the discussion.

“It’s pretty clear that the elections are validating what we believe is the public’s broad support at every level for wind energy,” AWEA President and CEO Denise Bode said.

“Wind champions” in both parties were elected or re-elected to Congress and the Senate on Nov. 6. President Obama advocated an extension of the PTC and often mentioned it in campaign stops in battleground states like Iowa and Colorado, both with extensive wind generation plants and factories in the domestic manufacturing supply chain. Gov. Mitt Romney had said he would allow the PTC to lapse.

“If the PTC expires, then the wind industry will be the only energy source left without federal tax support and that would be bad public policy,” Bode said.

Almost every previous extension when it has lapsed four times has been made in a lame duck session, she added.

The difference this time is that prior to recent extensions, the domestic manufacturing supply chain barely existed. As wind orders have plummeted due to uncertainty over the credit, manufacturing has slowed to a crawl.

The industry commissioned studies that said 37,000 jobs would likely be lost if the PTC was allowed to lapse. Bode said at least 4,000 jobs have disappeared in recent months.

Those include several hundred laid off in Colorado by Vestas Wind Systems  spread over its four manufacturing facilities in Colorado, and other companies that manufacture wind components, towers, turbines and blades have also been affected throughout the industrial Midwest.