Is the sun setting on the wind industry?

Whereas tax credits for the fossil fuel industry are permanent, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy is due to expire at the end of 2012, unless granted an extension. Congress has stalled on renewing the credit and the resulting job losses have begun with Gamesa planning to furlough 165 employees this fall and Vestas anticipating 1,600 layoffs if the credit expires. According to Navigant Consulting, 10,000 jobs will be lost by the end of this year due to uncertainty of the PTC, and within a year, 37,000 jobs will be cut if the PTC expires.

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Photo Credit: Treehugger.com

With tens of thousands of jobs on the line if the PTC expires, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are showing their support for the credit and requested immediate extension of the PTC. Recently, 18 House Representatives from both parties sent a letter to House leadership to petition for renewal of the PTC. And as we saw last month at WINDPOWER 2012, the PTC remained a hot topic with Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, and Robert Gibbs, former press secretary and advisor to President Barack Obama, setting aside their political differences and agreeing that Congress must extend the PTC.

As American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Denise Bode stated, “Wind projects typically have an 18- to 24-month development cycle. So effectively, the PTC is already expiring. That is why an extension is urgently needed now. We can’t afford to wait until the PTC runs out.”

Despite the approaching deadline and bipartisan support for the tax credit, Congress continues to do nothing to renew the PTC, which is crucial to American manufacturing and clean energy production. If extended, the PTC could help the wind industry create up to 100,000 jobs by 2016, and according to the U.S. Department of Energy, could create 500,000 jobs by 2030 and generate 20 percent of American electricity. And the PTC is not just an issue affecting the U.S. markets—other countries, including China, are keeping their eyes on developments with the credit, because their revenues may also be impacted if it is not renewed.

With jobs and the future of American clean energy hanging in the balance, Congress cannot afford to let the sun set on the PTC.

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