PTC backers flying in veterans for lobbying push

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012

About 25 military veterans will be roaming the halls of Capitol Hill tomorrow and Thursday to push for an extension of a key wind-industry tax break that is set to expire at the end of this year.

The lobbying effort is being organized by the nonprofit Operation Free, a veterans organization that promotes renewable energy. Workers will come from E.ON Climate and Renewables, Invenergy, Gamesa, NextEra, EDP Renewables and Siemens.

The veterans will meet with aides to “persuadable GOP members” to argue their case, said Stephanie Dreyer, a spokeswoman for the Truman National Security Project, which houses Operation Free. Veterans will be asking for an extension of the wind production tax credit while acknowledging that the details of how long the credit would be extended will have to be worked out in Congress.

The PTC provides developers with a 2.2-cent tax credit for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced for the first 10 years a wind farm is operational. Projects must be placed into service by Dec. 31 to claim the credit under existing law.

The wind industry has spent the last year aggressively lobbying for an extension to the credit, arguing it is vital for continued growth in the industry. Thousands of workers already have been laid off, mostly at manufacturers of turbines, blades and other wind components. Supporters of the PTC say those layoffs have happened because manufacturers have received virtually no orders for next year amid uncertainty over whether the credit will be extended.

The issue is expected to be high on Congress’ agenda when lawmakers return to Washington after the elections, although industry lobbyists say the shape of a lame-duck session largely hinges on the outcome of the elections.

If President Obama is re-elected, conventional wisdom has it that Congress will be busy in November and December trying to work out a number of agreements around tax and spending issues, including the PTC and other short-term tax breaks, income and capital gains tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush, and looming automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. If Republican nominee Mitt Romney wins, however, most observers expect Congress to put off most of that work until after he is inaugurated, perhaps by enacting short-term legislation to extend existing tax rates and delay the sequester.

As of this afternoon, Operation Free had confirmed meetings with offices of 32 members of the House and Senate over the next two days, nearly all Republicans. Veterans will be lobbying lawmakers from their home states. The group also has scheduled an event with members of the media for lunchtime Thursday.

In the House, veterans will be meeting with aides for Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Michael Turner (R-Ohio), Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Tim Johnson (R-Ill.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.), Wally Herger (R-Calif.), Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), Sam Johnson (R-Texas), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Rick Berg (R-N.D.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.), Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.)

In the Senate, they will be visiting the offices of Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).