By Emma Woodworth, Sierra Club volunteer
What do Karl Rove, business leaders, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison agree on? Renewing the wind energy production tax credit to save Minnesota’s wind energy jobs.
In the shadow of the North Saint Paul wind turbine on Monday, U.S. Representatives Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley joined private sector wind energy leaders to advocate for the extension of the federal Production Tax Credit, which will expire at the end of the year. This credit, which gives a tax break of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first ten years of utility-scale production from wind projects, has greatly helped the expansion of wind energy in the United States; not only has production of clean energy grown, but so too has the domestic, rather than outsourced, manufacturing of clean energy technology. The three previous times this tax credit was allowed to expire, new wind energy development slowed as developers and investors wondered about the future profitability and viability of their projects. Already there have been layoffs by developers not knowing how the future looks for their industry.
Congresswoman McCollum championed wind energy jobs, “Every new megawatt of homegrown wind means less imported coal and more Minnesota jobs. Wind energy is employing up to 3,000 Minnesotans in manufacturing, construction, maintenance and many other areas.” Currently, Minnesota is one of the top five states for generating wind power with over 2800 MW of installed wind capacity according to the American Wind Energy Association. That allowed Minnesota to get over 18 percent of our electricity from wind in March 2012.
Nationwide, wind power provided about a third of all new energy production. The speakers said that by extending this Production Tax Credit, we could do even better. Not only would jobs be protected, a point that has gained bipartisan support for the extension, but clean energy, such as wind power, could continue to expand. If the tax credit was extended, we could keep striving after Minnesota’s goal of 25% of all energy production statewide to come from wind. There’s no reason for Congress to wait, they argued. It will do nothing but harm to wait for the 11th hour for this extension when the bipartisan support is already here.
Sierra Club is organizing across the country to save wind energy jobs. Recently, we launched our Wind Works campaign to renew the PTC. Over 280 supporters left messages on their Congressman’s voice last Wednesday when dozens of volunteers across the country called Sierra Club supporters. Next up we will expand the coalition to bring in more community leaders and business leaders. We can’t afford to lose, so let’s all get involved. You can learn more at http://www.sierraclub.org/windworks/.