As deadline looms, industry pushes action on PTC extension in new Web campaign

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012

The American Wind Energy Association today released a new Web video arguing for the need to extend its key tax break.

The animated video reiterates the industry’s long-standing arguments in favor of renewing the production tax credit, which is set to expire Dec. 31 unless Congress acts. It says the credit has led to dramatic growth in U.S. wind farm construction and increased domestic manufacturing of turbine components and warns that allowing the credit to lapse would cause tens of thousands of jobs to be lost. The video, “PTC Explained,” exhorts supporters to contact their members of Congress to urge an extension.

AWEA says Congress should extend the credit as part of a package to address the looming “fiscal cliff” of across-the-board tax increases and spending cuts.

“It’s down to the wire on wind, and Congress has a choice. If they do nothing, the wind industry will fall over its own fiscal cliff and America will lose most of its wind installations next year,” said Rob Gramlich, senior vice president for public policy at AWEA, in a statement.

Debate over extending the credit has largely taken a back seat to the broader fiscal cliff debate, as President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) continue to negotiate how to best avoid looming tax increases and cuts in government spending (E&E Daily, Dec. 18).

As AWEA continues to push for a PTC extension as part of a fiscal cliff deal, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), the outgoing chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, says it and other so-called tax extenders should be dealt with on their own. The Senate Finance Committee, on which Bingaman also sits, this summer passed a broad extenders package of individual and business tax breaks that included a one-year extension and modification to the PTC, but that bill has not come to the floor.

“The wind industry faces its own cliff if the Production Tax Credit expires at the end of this year. Tens of thousands of jobs will be lost: In fact, most wind-related companies have already begun to lay off employees,” Bingaman wrote in an op-ed published today in Politico. “Orders for new turbines and gearboxes have fallen off significantly, and new wind installations will decline dramatically in 2013. Uncertainty comes from many places in the business world. Congress should not add to it.”

The looming expiration of the PTC has spurred a race among wind developers to bring their projects online before the end of the year, the Energy Information Administration noted in an article today. If all projects planned for this year come online ahead of the deadline, the industry could add 12,000 megawatts of capacity in 2012, making wind the largest source of new capacity with 45 percent of total additions this year, according to EIA.