Bingaman: Inconsistent U.S. energy policy leads to competitive disadvantage
“The U.S. cannot compete on a level playing field with countries that have strong industrial policies when our own policies have been so inconsistent and erratic,” said U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Thursday at a hearing of the committee on "Tax Reform: Impact on U.S. Energy Policy."
The federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), the primary incentive that helps support growth of wind power in the U.S., stands as a poster child for that "inconsistent and erratic" policy, having been extended only in one- to three-year increments since Congress first allowed it to expire in 1999. Short-term extensions, as many wind industry executives have pointed out in recent years, do not provide the certainty that businesses need to make investments of hundreds of millions of dollars in new manufacturing plants.
Bingaman sounded a very similar theme in a speech at a recent Sandia National Laboratories wind turbine blade technology workshop. Speaking of the possibility that the PTC, which expires this year, might not be extended until after the November election, he commented, "That's not a good way to make tax policy. It does not give developers and businesses the assurance they need to make plans and investments for the long term."
At the Senate hearing, his remarks came in the context of discussing the competitive outlook for U.S. renewable energy products, such as wind turbines and solar panels, with products manufactured by China. China has invested heavily in its renewable energy sector–an investment that has resulted in its world-leading clean energy market.