Leaders of a bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill today joined the U.S. wind power industry to sound an urgent call for the House Ways and Means Committee to find a vehicle as soon as possible for extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy and avert thousands of layoffs already beginning in wind energy factories like those in Newton.
U.S. Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, Dave Reichert, R-Wash., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., spoke with reporters in Washington, D.C., today about the need for swift passage of measure. They were joined by Steve Lockard, CEO of TPI Composites, a Phoenix-based company that manufactures wind blades at its factory in Newton.
"Our company has created more than 700 new jobs in Newton, and a second wind energy company there now employs over 100," Lockard said. "Our industry can do the same in hard-hit towns all across the U.S., if Congress will let us and doesn't increase taxes on wind power next year."
Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), asked House members to demand swift action on the tax credit. She also released new graphics illustrating the quarter-by-quarter fallout in U.S. wind energy employment from the 75,000 jobs at the start of the year, as wind turbine orders peak around mid-year amid uncertainty over the tax credit.
Approximately 37,000 American wind energy workers could be laid off over the course of this year if Congress does not take action, Bode said.
"Timing is everything," she said. "Our situation is urgent because we're already seeing the loss over over $15 billion a year in private investment in America, and 37,000 U.S. jobs that depend on the early extension of the Production Tax Credit."
Rep. King noted that the wind industry in Iowa supports approximately 5,000 jobs with and extension of the tax credit would provide some assurances for the industry.
"Iowa is a wind energy success story," he said. "Iowa was the first state to generate 20 percent of its electricity from wind. Now, wind supports as many as 5,000 Iowa jobs, and $11 million in annual land lease payments to Iowa farmers. This success story is spreading across the country because wind industry leaders know how to expand this business and provide more U.S. jobs. They just need Washington to provide stable, low tax rates. The Production Tax Credit means keeping investment dollars in the marketplace - not in the hands of government. Now is the time for stability in the wind industry and the PTC offers just that."
A recent study by Navigant Consulting on behalf of the AWEA found that extending the PTC for wind energy would allow the industry to grow 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration would kill 37,000 jobs within a year.