It’s laid out pretty clear in study after study that if the PTC Extension (Production Tax Credit) isn’t passed in Congress, jobs will be in jeopardy. These aren’t imaginary jobs that someone has made up on paper but are jobs that have been built, one by one throughout the country. The United States is facing the oncoming train that wind energy could be damaged by the severe loss of jobs and support with the PTC.
The exact numbers behind the Production Tax Credit come out to 2.2 cents in income tax credits for each kilowatt-hour of electricity that is created from a ‘utility scale’ wind turbine or farm. This allows more money to be kept in private hands than going to the government which in turn spurs more innovation, jobs and investment in America’s energy future.
One of the problems is that many officials against the Wind Energy PTC feel that the loss of jobs are exaggerated and in some cases even made up. However, we can use history as our guide to see the effect of PTC expirations historically. A graphic released by the American Wind Energy Association in their PTC Fact Sheet reveals what happened in the year 2000, 2002 and 2004 after the PTC expired. Annual wind installations dropped 93% in 2000, 73% in 2002 and 77% in 2004 which definitely made a dent in jobs.
Remember, jobs are not just wind energy technicians climbing up the towers, installing them and maintaining them, but the entire wide scope of the industry. Manufacturing parts, gears, cables, batteries, generators, lubricants, harnesses, ropes, safety gear, radios and electronic components and even transportation companies moving these products across the country. The jobs are distributed throughout the entire country to niche centers that produce the specific necessities and side products needed to maintain turbines and support workers.
The number of jobs on the line was announced in a press release by the AWEA.org revealing a study done by Navigant that found the, “PTC extension will create and save 54,000 jobs; expiration will kill 37,000.” While domestic production of wind turbines components has grown to creating 400 manufacturing facilities in 43 states there are ones that see a very large increase from the jobs & private investment. The states that would most be effected either positively or negatively are Colorado, Texas, Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, North Dakota and Ohio.
If you’re still sitting on the sidelines thinking, “The proof is in the pudding” then your pudding is already on the table. Siemens Energy Inc. is already laying off 615 wind turbine workers in Iowa, Kansas and Florida due to the delay of passing the PTC. Iowa’s 3rd District Representative Leonard Boswell (Dem) came out and said in a statement to Omaha.com, “The nearly 500 layoffs in Iowa’s wind energy sector are the direct result of Congress failing to renew the production tax credit.” These jobs are being lost before the expiration even comes to fruition, so the argument that jobs won’t really be lost is ludicrous.
The wind industry is still gaining its footing in America and solidifying its roots. The technology research into wind turbine components to make them more efficient in producing and storing more energy is being fueled by private investment due to the PTC. Just this year records were continuously set in the United States as technology and installations skyrocketed. Records happened in places like Texas when they hit a 8,368MW wind generation record on June 19th, 2012, Kansas was the top state for wind energy capacity in the third quarter adding 473 MW and the entire nation saw a 40% increase year-to-date of wind capacity. The trend line is literally in a full hockey stick growth pattern and the PTC is fundamental to this continued growth.
Don’t let political campaigns like the Romney campaign get in the way of the facts behind the wind industry. The jobs are being created and many more can be lost if Congress doesn’t act. Support energy independence in America and be very cautious about listening to people who have their hands in the pockets of big oil and fossil fuel industries that don’t support renewable energy. There is often a motive behind statements that come out against wind energy — and it’s often financial interest. What are you waiting for? Tell your congressman today you want to see PTC extended.