Tax Credits Now
THE ARGUMENT FOR RENEWABLE TAX INCENTIVES
Published In: EnergyBiz Magazine January/February 2012
SUPPORT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY is critical to American businesses, consumers, our national security and our environment. Investing in our budding clean energy businesses is vitally important for the American economy because it creates jobs, curbs our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, and creates the market certainty that fuels continued growth in the renewable energy sector.
Federal energy tax incentives are the primary energy policy that ensures the deployment of American wind energy. In addition to providing direct support for wind and other renewable manufacturers, production tax credits help companies leverage millions of dollars in private investment. Unfortunately, despite its track record of success and its importance to our economy, without congressional action the production tax credit is scheduled to expire at the end of next year.
It is critically important that Congress act on this extension now. Wind-related projects are planned months if not years in advance, and as a result, construction will slow down if the credits are not extended in a timely manner. Worse, some of the benefits of these tax credits to our economy - including job creation and cheaper clean energy that's made here in America - will be greatly diminished if Congress follows the pattern it has established on other issues this year and pursues a last-minute extension instead.
As business and labor leaders have told us time and time again, it is important to have consistency in policy to support the continued development of wind manufacturing in the United States. When the production tax credit has expired in the past, installations have dropped between 73 and 93 percent, with corresponding job losses. This pattern has needlessly created a boom-bust cycle in one of our country's most promising industries. As America continues to struggle out of the worst economic recession of our lifetimes, another expiration would cripple growth. Dollar for dollar, tax incentives for renewable energy are creating four times as many jobs as subsidies for oil and gas. A smooth, timely extension of these tax credits will help ensure that these new jobs are created in America, and not China or Europe.
Since 2005, the wind industry has spurred more than $60 billion in investment. More than 400 facilities across 43 states now manufacture products for the wind energy industry, and U.S. wind turbine manufacturing has grown twelvefold. Today, 60 percent of the value of a wind turbine is produced here in America, compared with 25 percent prior to 2005. A surge in technological advances has reduced costs by more than 90 percent since 1980. In the last four years, wind energy has provided 35 percent of all new U.S. power capacity.
According to a study by the Department of Energy, wind energy alone already supports 75,000 jobs across the country today and could create up to 500,000 new American jobs in the next 20 years with adequate policy support. From manufacturing and construction to engineering and development, these family- wage jobs can become part of the American economic comeback story if we can simply provide the necessary help now to make our clean energy industry competitive in the global economy, where other countries already have a head start.
The production tax credit has a long record of bipartisan support in Congress, including from my colleague from the Pacific Northwest, Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington, with whom I have introduced legislation to extend these incentives. The credits are also supported by a wide range of business, labor and environmental interests, as well as dozens of major utilities including Oregon's own Portland General Electric.
It's time to extend the Production Tax Credit for Renewable Energy so American know-how can keep producing domestic clean energy and jobs across the country. Even in today's divisive political climate, clean energy is something that members of both political parties should agree on.