Wind Leaders Call for Extension
Senior executives from four of the world's top wind turbine manufacturers-GE Energy, Gamesa, Siemens and Vestas-recently joined in urging Congress to act promptly to extend the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC). The PTC is now set to expire December 31, 2008, although a one-year extension was recently approved by the Senate.
In a Rose Garden statement last Wednesday, President Bush focused on the problem of climate change. The four executives offered their companies' perspectives on wind power's growth potential and called attention to wind power as part of the climate solution at a breakfast meeting convened by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), a Washington, D.C.-based trade group.
The four firms are the largest manufacturers of turbines sold in the U.S. during 2007, as measured by installed generating capacity in megawatts (MW) and number of turbines, as reported by AWEA's annual survey.
The U.S. has one of the most abundant wind resources of any nation in the world. Industry experts believe wind energy can provide 20 percent of the nation's electricity needs by the year 2030, creating 500,000 jobs and more than $400 billion net present value in economic benefits, while helping reduce greenhouse emissions and other pollution from the electricity sector.
"Industry expansion over the past three years can be directly credited to the renewable energy production tax credit," noted AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. "Likewise, studies indicate that an expiration of the tax credit will place $19 billion in renewable energy investment and 116,000 American jobs at risk. We are dedicated to the extension of this tax incentive, which will generate jobs and economic growth while simultaneously reducing global warming pollution."
"Thanks in part to the PTC, U.S. wind power capacity is now over 16,800 MW-or enough to serve the equivalent of 4.5 million average households-and wind has been the second largest source of new electrical capacity in the nation, behind natural gas, for the past three years," added Julius Steiner, CEO, Gamesa USA. "Gamesa has added 1,000 new manufacturing jobs in the U.S. during that time period."
"With energy demand increasing dramatically and growing pressure to address environmental concerns, we are confident that wind energy - an abundant, reliable and carbon-free resource - will become an integral part of this country's energy mix," said Edward Lowe, General Manager, Renewables Market Development, GE Energy. "Since entering the wind business in 2002, GE has created more than 5,000 US industry jobs, a number that could more than double with a long- term, stable policy commitment in place. We strongly urge Congress to renew the PTC in order to sustain and accelerate this industry's growth and 'green-collar' job creation."
"Wind energy has made tremendous strides in becoming a mainstream option for meeting growing electricity demands globally," said Roby Roberts, Vice President of Government Relations, Vestas, the world's largest producer of wind turbines. "In March we opened our first factory in the U.S., creating over 600 local jobs, and we recently announced plans to establish a tower factory and an R&D facility in the U.S. We need to build up our network of suppliers within the U.S., and it is vital that our suppliers can make strategic decisions in the medium and long-term. Prompt extension of the PTC is crucial to fully realising investments and to unleash the job creation this growing network can provide."
"Wind power is fundamentally a manufacturing industry, which in turn means jobs and economic growth," said Michael Revak, Director Wind Energy Americas, Siemens. "Our Siemens Fort Madison, Iowa, turbine blade facility currently employs roughly 250 workers, and we hope to double that number. We're also planning a new research and development center in the U.S."
The wind energy industry has spawned jobs for some 45,000 Americans, including 10,000 new jobs in 2007 alone. In 2007, six new wind manufacturing plants opened (in Illinois, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Texas) and plans for eight more (in Colorado, Iowa, South Dakota, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Arkansas) were announced.
The PTC provides an incentive of two cents per kilowatt-hour generated to facilities that produce electricity from renewable energy resources, including wind, biomass, geothermal, and hydropower. The credit can be claimed for 10 years, beginning on the date the qualified facility is placed in service. The facility must begin operation before the credit expires. Previous short-term extensions of the PTC have caused a boom-and-bust cycle in the wind industry, increasing costs along the entire supply chain and keeping businesses from growing to their full potential.
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