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A New Step Forward to Protect American Wind Energy Jobs

The Senate Finance Committee passes a one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit for the domestic wind industry.

Today, in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the Senate Finance Committee passed a one-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the domestic wind industry. For months, the President has been calling on Congress to extend the PTC – which is currently slated to expire at the end of 2012 – in order to save tens of thousands of jobs in the American wind industry, manufacturing industry, as well as the associated supply chain. We applaud the bipartisan leadership showcased today in the Finance Committee and urge the rest of Congress to follow the Committee’s lead as expeditiously as possible.

Renewing the PTC has been a top priority for the President because he views the American wind industry as an American success story. Over the past few years – thanks in part to the PTC – this industry has flourished. Today, we have enough wind capacity to power 10 million homes across the country. In 2011, which was a banner year for the industry, nearly one-third of all new power capacity in the United States came from wind.

Notably, as part of the package passed today in the Senate Finance Committee, an important provision was included that allows wind developers to use the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) instead of the Production Tax Credit, which is critical for offshore wind projects in particular.

In a parallel trend, the domestic content of wind turbines has increased dramatically in recent years. It used to be that we had to import most of the 8,000 component parts that go into a modern wind turbine. But today, with nearly 500 wind-related manufacturing facilities in 43 states, we’re producing more and more of those parts in America, which means job opportunities for tens of thousands of American workers in every corner of the country. 

However, without an extension of the PTC, the progress and the milestones of the past few years are in jeopardy. Many manufacturers are already reporting that demand for wind turbines has begun to dramatically slow in light of the uncertainty around this credit, and we know from historical precedent that abruptly ending the PTC would have a significant impact on employment in wind industry.

To simply sit back and let this happen would make no sense – and it shouldn’t be a partisan issue, as evidenced by the 19-5 vote in the Finance Committee today. Moreover, the PTC is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, Fortune 500 Companies like Nike and Yahoo! and Starbucks, and large number of Democratic and Republican governors across the country.

For example, Terry Branstad, the Governor of Iowa, recently said about the PTC that it “has been a very good thing for Iowa in terms of 20 percent of our energy is now generated by wind.”

It’s time for Congress to put politics aside, and support this clear job provision, that supports American workers, American manufacturing, and American competiveness.

We hope Congress agrees and joins the Obama administration in these efforts.