Some things stay the same and some things never change. There you go — easy. You can say the same thing two different ways. The issue here is the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), or of more concern, the fact that it might soon be history. This credit has been helping wind energy producers get a foothold in the electricity marketplace for some years now. The PTC will expire soon and is in serious danger of not being renewed, mainly because the Republican dominated House view the credit ‘as a waste of money’. Voting for extending the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) is fast approaching and while there is obvious Democratic support for extending the tax credit, there are fears that the Republicans may get what they want: an end this much-needed credit.
Writing in the New York Times, Matthew L. Wald pointed out that Exelon, one of the major players in the wind turbine market had last week been expelled as a member of the Wind Energy Association “Because the company opposed a renewal of the credit.” Interestingly, Exelon is also a major player in the production of nuclear energy – a coincidence maybe? I think not.
For the best part of the last few decades, solar power and wind power simply proved to be more of a novelty and not an actual, legitimate method for mass production of electricity. The equipment was expensive and private investment was scant to say the least. Ironically though, 50 years ago nuclear power was in the same boat, something Exelon have clearly forgotten. Nearly all new technologies and industries start out this way and over the past few years there has been massive strides in cutting production costs while improving the overall production of green electricity.
These positive strides forward would not have been possible without government help in the way of incentives like the Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC). Wald’s article also carries a quote from the Wind Energy Association who claim that “if the tax credit expires, some 17,000 jobs will be eliminated next year and that deliveries of new turbines will spiral to zero.” That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) suddenly found itself on the senate’s cutting room floor it will be an unmitigated disaster for the entire green energy movement. Because the initial set up costs of equipment and hardware were expensive the public took the same naive view as potential investors – why bother wasting money on something that is going to be more expensive that what we’ve already got? As the wind and solar energy sector grew with the help of government backing it proved to be more cost efficient, allowing the industry to move forward and improve the overall standing of the industry.
If we a are serious about weaning ourselves off of our dependency for fossil fuels and nuclear power cutting the PTC would be a big step backwards. Unfortunately the shortsighted demand for cheap energy drives the market – something the GOP puppet masters are using as an election campaign strategy. Let’s hope their view that ‘green is expensive and fossil fuels are cheap’ will be seen for what it is, right wing propaganda by people who don’t care about the environment, or their children’s future, just making money and trying to get votes from people who can’t think for themselves.
Without the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), the future of green energy will be in serious danger. Wind and solar equipment is not yet cheap enough to be mass-produced on its own as it is still a fledgling new industry. Once the industry is fully up and running the incentive won’t be needed, but for now, it’s a must.