After failed attempts to attach an extension to the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy to the payroll tax bill and the recent transportation bill, a bipartisan group of senators is trying again with another bill that would renew the wind PTC.
The legislation - the American Energy and Job Promotion Act - proposed by Sens. Chuck Grassley, D-Iowa; Mark Udall, D-Colo.; Scott Brown, R-Mass.; Tom Harkin, D-Iowa; Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Michael Bennet, D-Colo. - would extend the wind energy PTC for an additional two years.
It also would extend the renewable energy tax credits provided by Section 45 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for biomass, geothermal, landfill gas, hydropower, marine and hydrokinetic energy until the end of 2014.
Grassley, the lead sponsor of the legislation, was the author of the original wind PTC, enacted in 1992. In his pitch for the bill, Grassley emphasized how the tax credit is critical to U.S. jobs - 37,000 of which could be lost if the tax credit were to expire, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
“Tax-reform efforts might modify or address this incentive in the near future, but the jobs and opportunities provided by wind energy should not be abandoned in the meantime - and limiting the bill’s impact on the deficit can be addressed,” Grassley said in a statement. “Unemployment remains high, at 8.3 percent, and energy costs are on the rise. Congress should renew the wind energy tax credit to develop clean energy alternatives and good-paying jobs.”
Udall added that many companies are depending on the PTC extension to continue their operations.
“With employers like Vestas willing to invest in Colorado, Congress needs to act well before the deadline and give these employers certainty to plan ahead - otherwise those jobs will move to other countries,” Udall said. “Failing to extend the production tax credit for wind energy will threaten the industry's growth and Colorado jobs, and I'll continue to push my colleagues for a better solution where Colorado keeps our jobs.”
Likewise, in announcing its major corporate restructuring, Vestas warned that in addition to the 2,300-plus employees the company let go in January, it will lay off an additional 1,600 employees - mostly in the U.S. - if the PTC is not extended.
According to Grassley, the wind energy industry accounts for 75,000 U.S. jobs and drives as much as $20 billion in private investment.