Ken Becker, Executive Director for SEED, recently traveled to Washington DC in conjunction with the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and their “Wind Power on Capitol Hill 2012”. This is an effort to educate the legislators on the importance of passing the Production Tax Credit (PTC) extension. "We were looking for a minimum one year extension that would be tied to the Payroll Tax Bill," said Becker. "The current PTC will expire on Dec. 31, 2012. The importance of the PTC extension is vital in keeping the emerging renewable energy markets expanding, investing, and hiring employees."
The PTC could be labeled as a “Jobs Bill” as without it not only will wind companies not expand and hire new employees, they will also be laying off current employees. "The PTC extension is important all over the US. We currently have some 400 manufacturing sites in 43 states building components for the wind turbines."
In 2005 only 25% of the turbines and services were domestically produced and that has grown to over 60% in 2011. Each participant in Wind Power on Capitol Hill was assigned to meet with certain Senate and Congressional offices. "It was our job to inform the elected officials and staff of the importance of the PTC extension passing now instead of after it has expired in December," explained Becker. "I was assigned to meet with the offices of Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, and the Congressional offices of Mike Conaway, Randy Neugebauer and William (Mac) Thornberry. As I was waiting outside the office of Senator Hutchison, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Todd Staples came by as he was visiting the Capitol concerning federal expenditures related to agriculture."
"A PTC extension will not only help those all across the nation, it will help those closer to home. We have a strong wind story to tell in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle. The manufacturing side of wind will be negatively affected without the passing of the PTC in counties like Nolan, Taylor, Brown, Coleman, Tom Green and Potter," stated Becker. "The lack of wind development will not only hurt those counties listed with a manufacturing base, it will also hurt those all over West Texas and the Panhandle as the development of wind is stifled due to the lack of a long term US energy policy that includes conventional and renewable energy sources.
The wind industry is making technology headways as they are finding ways to increase the productivity and reduce the cost per MW. "I am sure the industry has entertained conversations as to a PTC extension with a gradual phasing out of the PTC. Due to the infancy of the industry, an extension to the PTC is the right thing to do now which would allow the law makes and the industry officials time to plan for our energy future."
The six counties including and surrounding Nolan County, have approximately 4000 MW of developed wind power. That is approximately 40% of the developed wind power in Texas and 9% of all the developed wind power in the United States.