The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has removed Chicago-based Exelon Corp. from its membership ranks after learning that Exelon lobbied Congress to kill the extension of the production tax credit (PTC).
AWEA's Peter Kelley tells NAW the organization had been aware of Exelon's efforts as early as this summer through media reports and company interviews.
However, the final straw occurred last week when AWEA learned last week that Exelon lobbyist David Brown was planning to appear on Capitol Hill with Thomas Pyle, a long-time critic of wind energy, to campaign against a PTC extension.
Kelley says the AWEA board of directors was notified of Exelon's actions and given 24 hours to cast their votes. As of Friday, all of the votes were tallied, and Exelon was notified of its removal.
Kelley says although it is permissable for member companies to have differing ideologies and opinions, AWEA draws the line when a company spearheads an initiative to thwart its No. 1 objective.
"The AWEA leadership was alarmed when it discovered that one of our member companies was leading an organized effort against the PTC," Kelley says, adding that the organization found Exelon's actions particularly galling given that Exelon executives attended its confidential strategy sessions to extend the PTC.
Kelley says this is the first time AWEA has terminated a company's membership.
"It is unfortunate that AWEA has voted to end Exelon’s membership in the organization," Exelon said in a statement. "Exelon supports wind energy and is one of the largest wind energy producers in the country."
For its part, Exelon Corp. - through its Exelon Generation subsidiary - is one of the largest owners of wind energy in the U.S. According to its website, Exelon Generation owns more than 900 MW of wind energy and operates 39 wind projects in 10 states. In 2010, Exelon acquired 735 MW of wind energy through the purchase of John Deere Renewables.
Despite its extensive wind power holdings, Exelon no longer supports an extension of the PTC.
"The PTC is no longer needed and distorts competitive wholesale energy markets causing financial harm to other, more reliable, clean energy sources," the statement reads.
Despite Exelon's actions, Kelley is not worried about division among AWEA's 2,000 member companies. In fact, he says other utilities and organizations, including the Edison Electric Institute, the association of electric shareholder-owned utilities, not only support wind but also the PTC's extension.
"The good news," Kelley says, "is that we believe we have bipartisan support in the House and Senate and that we will prevail."