Comment: A clean energy future blowing in the wind

Source: By Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), South Coast Today • Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2016

For too long, our energy policies have benefitted the entrenched interests of big oil, gas and coal companies over clean energy industries like wind and solar. The tax subsidies for these fossil fuel industries are permanent pieces of the tax code that never expire. Meanwhile, the government spending bill that became law last December will begin phasing down the tax credits for wind power in 10 months. By the end of 2019 they will be completely gone. And the tax credits for solar will phase out by the end of 2021.

Massachusetts was once the nation’s leading energy producer, when Herman Melville wrote “Moby Dick” by the light of a whale oil lamp. And today we are at the forefront of the current clean energy revolution. Massachusetts now has nearly 100,000 people employed in clean energy in Massachusetts, and it is the fastest growing sector in the state. Massachusetts installed the fourth most solar of any state in the nation last year, for the second year in a row. And now, with the potential for offshore wind development off of Massachusetts and the East Coast, the answer to America’s clean energy future is truly blowing in the wind.

In Massachusetts, we are the home of the “perfect storm.” We know the power of the winds off our shores. We are the Saudi Arabia of offshore wind in New England. The same winds that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth Rock can now power tens of thousands of new jobs in Massachusetts and help reduce carbon pollution.

But in order to fully realize that potential, we need a combination of strong policies at the state level to promote the development of this offshore wind resource as well as long-term certainty in the federal tax code for this industry.

That is why I will shortly be introducing legislation in the Senate to extend the full tax credit for offshore wind for 10 years — through 2025.

In 2008, Congress passed a long-term, eight-year extension of the solar tax credits. The solar industry took that tax certainty that the federal government provided and used it to design what the future looked like – we went from 79 megawatts of solar installed in the entire nation in 2005 to nearly 100 times that amount last year: 7,300 megawatts. And we now have more than 200,000 Americans employed in the solar sector.

We now have that same opportunity for offshore wind. Because the legislation that I will introduce shortly is projected to cost only a fraction of other proposals that have been made to extend the tax credits for offshore wind, we have a chance to put it on the books this year. We need to capture this opportunity now and fight to put the policies and the certainty on the books for this emerging industry.

The offshore wind energy revolution will be our new shot heard round the world. Massachusetts will fire that shot. We are the 21st century energy revolutionaries. Let’s harness this potential to continue Massachusetts’ leadership in the clean energy economy.