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A Midwest Energy News story about a wind farm going up in Indiana gives a clear picture of how wind power creates jobs, and what’s at stake as Congress delays acting to extend the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

The story, by Dan Ferber, looks at the Wildcat wind project near Elwood, Ind.  Mike Behringer of White Construction, an Indiana-based company that is handling the installation of the wind turbines, describes the work involved.  Says the article, “Access roads have to be built into farm fields; foundations have to be excavated. To hold up a single turbine, it takes 400 cubic yards of concrete and 36 tons of rebar—meaning the entire wind farm will use enough concrete to pour a 3-foot-wide, 4-inch-thick sidewalk from central Indiana to St. Louis. Each of the five sections of each 300-foot tower is transported to the site on a semi, then stacked in place with the sort of crane used to build skyscrapers.

“The nacelle—a fiberglass-encased box with more than 70 tons of equipment inside, including the electricity-generating components of the turbine—is placed atop the tower. Then each of the 160-foot blades must be mounted on top of the tower.

“All this work means jobs, and lots of them, Behringer said. One hundred seventy people, including iron workers, crane operators, laborers, and linemen are all employed building the first phase of the Wildcat wind farm, which will have the capacity to produce 200 MW of [electricity].”

The article goes on to note that 14 Indiana companies build wind farms or wind turbine components, that more firms have the capability to enter the wind industry, and that jobs will likely be lost to overseas if the PTC is not extended.  And it refers to a recent economic impact analysis that found that a typical wind farm supports nearly 1,100 jobs.


Sixty-five groups and individuals from Iowa, including a number of very prominent organizations such as the University of Iowa and Iowa State University, recently signed onto a joint letter to the state's Congressional delegation urging action on an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

The letter urged the legislators to "keep Iowans working and to continue promoting Iowa’s economic development, energy security and clean affordable electricity … " It added, "Thousands of Iowans depend on the wind industry to support their families through construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance jobs. In addition, land owner easement payments to farmers exceed $11 million annually and are extremely important in trying economic times. Economic conditions have been made even more difficult by the drought conditions that threaten this year’s crop production."

Others joining the effort included the Iowa Chamber Alliance, the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Iowa Association of Community College Presidents, the Iowa Wildlife Federation, and many more.

The text of the letter follows:

September 13, 2012

The Honorable Charles Grassley
United States Senate
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Steve King
United States House of Representatives
1131 Longworth Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Tom Harkin
United States Senate
731 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tom Latham
United States House of Representatives
2217 Rayburn Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Bruce Braley
United States House of Representatives
1727 Longworth Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable David Loebsack
United States House of Representatives
1527 Longworth Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Leonard Boswell
United States House of Representatives
1026 Longworth Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Iowa Congressional Delegation,

We, the undersigned groups and individuals, write to urge you to keep Iowans working and to continue promoting Iowa’s economic development, energy security and clean affordable electricity by immediately extending the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC). Action is needed to prevent expiration of the PTC at the end of this calendar year. Aided by the PTC, Iowa was the first state to generate almost 20 percent of its electricity from wind. Wind supports as many as 7,000 Iowa jobs, and millions in annual land lease payments to Iowa farmers. Iowa wind has also prompted $300 million in private investment in Iowa manufacturing facilities.

The wind industry in Iowa has diversified our rural economy. Since 1992, 2,978 wind turbines have been installed on 104 utility scale and community scale wind farms. Iowa now has 4,322 MW of electric generation capacity and 450 MW are under construction. This represents nearly $5 billion funneling through Iowa’s economy. Thousands of Iowans depend on the wind industry to support their families through construction, manufacturing, operations and maintenance jobs. In addition, land owner easement payments to farmers exceed $11 million annually and are extremely important in trying economic times. Economic conditions have been made even more difficult by the drought conditions that threaten this year’s crop production.

It is vital that Congress act now to avoid the looming tax increase on wind energy, as the economic damage has already begun. Without the certainty of the PTC, developers are cancelling projects because they cannot get financing. Consequently, manufacturers are faced with little or no orders for 2013. Layoffs have started.

Congress has the opportunity to stop further job losses and to halt economic deterioration in Iowa and throughout the nation. The payroll tax legislation now being debated in the both the Senate and the House offers a vehicle to extend the PTC. We respectfully request that an extension of the PTC be included in any tax overhaul policy.

This is not a partisan issue; it’s an Iowa jobs issue. We cannot as a state or as a country afford to let the PTC expire. With low taxes, wind power can continue to generate tremendous benefits – in jobs, investment and clean energy — to Iowa and the nation.

Sincerely,

Allen, Chaz – Jasper County Economic Development Corporation
Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services
ASFCME
Anemometry Specialists, Inc.
Beckman, Susan – Siemens Energy, Inc.
Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance
Cherokee Area Economic Development Corporation
Cherokee Industrial Corporation
Clean Air Muscatine
Clipper Wind, LLC
Conley, Elizabeth – Clean Line Energy Partners
Des Moines Area Community College
Dowding Industries of Iowa, LLC
Eastern Iowa Community College
EDP Renewables North America, LLC
Environmental Law and Policy Center
Geier, Michael G. – Snyder and Associates, Inc.
Greater Des Moines Partnership
Green State Solutions
Hawkeye Community College
Herrick, Chad – Atkins
Iberdrola Renewables
Indian Hills Community College
Iowa Association of Community College Presidents
Iowa Central Community College
Iowa Chamber Alliance
Iowa Environmental Council
Iowa Farm Bureau
Iowa Interfaith Power and Light
Iowa Lakes Community College
Iowa Move to Amend
Iowa Policy Project
Iowa Renewable Energy Association
Iowa Solar and Small Wind Energy Trade Association
Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council
Iowa State University
Iowa Valley Community College
Iowa Western Community College
Iowa Wildlife Federation
Iowa Wind Energy Association
I-RENEW
Janssen, Dan – City of Sibley
Jones, Doug – Clean Line Energy Partners
Kirkwood Community College
Midwest Wind Resources
Northeast Iowa Community College
North Iowa Community College
Northwest Iowa Community College
Perrin, Brenda – Cherokee
Progress Iowa
Physicians for Social Responsibility-Iowa Chapter
Public Interest Research Group
RENEW Energy Maintenance, LLC
Southeastern Iowa Community College
Southwestern Community College
Stoffregen, Philip – BrownWinick
Sundblad, Phil – Crosswind Energy, LLC
Tipton, Sheila K. – Blein McCormick, P.C.
Transition Des Moines
University of Iowa
University of Northern Iowa
Vestas-American Wind Technology, Inc.
Western Iowa Tech Community College
Wind Consulting
Zinc Air, Inc.
 


With Congress back in Washington, D.C., this week for a short session, the urgency of action on an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) was underscored by a new round of layoff announcements from wind companies.

Katana Summit, a wind turbine tower manufacturer that employs 214 in Columbus, Neb., and 79 in Ephrata, Wash., said it will close both plants if it cannot find a buyer for its operations, according to North American Wind Power.  A spokesperson for the company told the publication it has no orders for 2013 due to current uncertainty in the industry about a PTC extension: “”I hope we can find a buyer to keep these plants operating, but unless government policy for renewable energy becomes more stable, I’m afraid we’ll see more closures and job losses in the industry into 2013.”

Elsewhere, Molded Fiber Glass, a turbine blade manufacturer, announced layoffs Monday for 92 of 370 employees at its plant in Aberdeen, S.D., according to the Aberdeen American-News.

The three members of the South Dakota Congressional delegation–Sens. John Thune (R) and Tim Johnson (D) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R)–all issued statements of regret concerning the announcement and expressed their support for the PTC.

America’s economy is still sluggish–sluggish enough that the Federal Reserve Board today announced another round of bond purchases, this time aimed at mortgage-backed securities, to try to get it moving again. But the unfortunate fact is that until Congress acts to extend the PTC and provide some stability to the wind industry’s financial environment, the industry is going to continue shedding jobs, week after week.


Each major wind farm in America creates nearly 1,100 jobs and can add tens of millions of dollars in new taxes and other benefits to the communities where they’re located, according to two new reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

A new 250-megawatt wind farm will create 1,079 jobs throughout the many steps of building that wind farm, according to the NRDC report “American Wind Farms: Breaking Down the Benefits from Planning to Production.”  The jobs analysis was commissioned by NRDC and performed by BW Research Partnership, according to the report. These are positions in manufacturing, construction engineering and management, among other areas.

But the benefits don’t end there, a separate NRDC study on the secondary impacts of the wind energy industry shows.

Wind farms also are helping revitalize communities across the country by generating new taxes, lease payments to landowners  and economic development revenues, in addition to creating new job opportunities, the NRDC report “At Wind Speed: How the U.S. Wind Industry is Rapidly Growing Our Local Economies,” shows.  The report profiles four communities from Ohio to Oregon that have benefitted from the wind industry.

Today, the total generating capacity of U.S. wind farms is more than 50,000 megawatts (MW)–enough to generate as much energy as more than 30 Hoover Dams–and the wind industry employs about 75,000 Americans.  Wind energy production has increased by more than 170 percent in the past four years alone.

Added NRDC in a news release, “Yet the industry’s growth and promise is now facing potential disaster, because Congress has not renewed the 2.2-cent per kilowatt hour Production Tax Credit (PTC) that’s set to expire at the end of the year. The Senate is expected to take up the PTC this week.”

NRDC policy advocate Cai Steger, co-author of the report, said:  “Every time a wind farm gets built, America jobs are created. These reports show what the PTC has done for the wind industry–and why it’s essential that it [be] extended.”

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D), who is leading efforts in the Senate to extend the PTC, said: “The case is clear.  The wind energy industry supports jobs and drives economic development.  It’s time for Congress to make extending the bi-partisan wind PTC a top priority.

“In Colorado and across the country, workers are already paying the price for Congressional inaction on the PTC. Those jobs losses are only a glimpse of what could happen if we let the tax credit expire.”

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), who also is leading efforts in the Senate to extend the PTC, said: “As the Natural Resources Defense Council’s report demonstrates, wind energy has the potential to bring thousands of new manufacturing jobs to Ohio and the United States.

“Ohio and the United States are poised to lead the world in wind turbine manufacturing and use. We can’t trade a dependence on foreign oil for a dependence on foreign-made clean energy components, which is why supporting American manufacturers of wind turbines and parts is more important than ever.”

According to the NRDC supply chain report, the 1,079 jobs created by a typical 250 MW wind farm are created at 14 different steps along the way of building the wind farm.

Non-construction businesses account for an estimated 557 jobs. They include 432 workers in manufacturing, 80 in planning and development, 18 in sales and distribution and 27 in operations and maintenance.

Construction jobs add another 522 jobs to a typical wind farm.  These workers are spread between three categories, with 273 working on on-site civil works, such as roads, and foundations; 202 working on the installation of the wind turbines and 47 working on on-site electrical work, such as grid connection.

Additionally, the report profiles American companies that could participate at every one of the 14 steps of the wind farm.


Des Moines attorney Sheila K. Tipton explains why an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) is important to Iowa in an op-ed published in yesterday's edition of the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal. The reason is best summed up in her opening sentence: "It's the economy, stupid."

Ms. Tipton adds, "No state stands to benefit more than does Iowa should the tax credit be extended. And no state economy will suffer more should Congress allow the credit to expire … In my 30 years of practicing energy law, I have never witnessed growth by any type of energy like wind energy’s growth over the past decade. Regrettably, Washington’s zero-sum game of politics has effectively stopped wind energy development in Iowa and elsewhere. Because Congress hasn’t extended the production tax credit for wind generation owners, no turbine sales are projected in the U.S. for the next year. None. Without extension of the tax credit, the wind industry will not grow. Investors are waiting to see what Congress does."

Already, the delay is costing Iowa jobs, she notes, pointing to an Aug. 20 announcement by wind turbine manufacturer Clipper Windpower that it will lay off 174 employees from its plant in Cedar Rapids.  She concludes by urging readers, no matter whom they support for President, to let both campaigns know that a PTC extension is urgently needed for the Hawkeye State's economy.


Bill Bradbury, a member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council and a former Oregon Secretary of State, set forth the facts about wind power’s economic benefits, calling for an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) in an op-ed published Saturday in the Portland Oregonian.

Wind companies, Bradbury said, have invested $4.5 billion in Oregon’s economy, supporting 3,000 jobs, providing tax revenue for school districts and public safety, and helping farmers and ranchers weather tough economic times.

Concluded Bradbury, “Suggesting that temporary, renewable energy policies should expire while allowing permanent fossil-fuel subsidies to live on is not a sustainable solution to develop a long-term and secure energy policy for our country. Wind energy, like all energy sectors, will always be in competition with other power sources. We need to give wind energy time to become fully self-sufficient, a goal the industry is working toward and not far from achieving …

“The facts are clear: Wind energy is an important economic driver for Oregon and the United States and an important piece in building, diversifying and securing our energy future. The PTC still has a role to play in helping the wind energy industry reach self-sufficiency, and it should be renewed.”


In a letter that appeared in yesterday’s edition of the Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times, State Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Haverford) urges Congress to extend the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), saying that doing so will “create jobs, support local communities, protect the environment and improve energy price stability.”

Adds Vitali, “Wind farms help local economies by making lease payments to local property owners and paying property taxes to school districts and municipalities.  Wind turbines operate pollution free, do not add to climate change and use very little water. Wind power increases energy price stability. Because wind generated energy has no fuel cost, its price is very predictable over time.”

According to AWEA’s Pennsylvania fact sheet, the Keystone State now has 910 megawatts (MW) of wind generating capacity installed, enough to power the equivalent of 180,000 homes, and 3,000 to 4,000 workers are employed in the state’s wind industry.  A Production Tax Credit extension was also endorsed recently by the Philadelphia Inquirer, one of Pennsylvania’s major newspapers.


"As a mother of two young children with one on the way, this is not a political issue. This is about jobs in my hometown, moving our country toward energy independence and providing the cleanest, healthiest air possible for our children."

Those are the words of Christina Sanchez Werner in a recent letter to the Pueblo (Colo.) Chieftain newspaper concerning an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).  Ms. Werner praised U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (R-Colo.) for his support for the PTC, saying, "Contrary to the opinions of other letter writers, wind energy has been extremely successful … Like investing in our children's education, the production tax credit provides a needed jump start to young technologies like wind energy until they can compete in the global marketplace."

While the PTC has been endorsed by eight of nine members of Colorado's Congressional delegation and has "bipartisan support across the nation," Ms. Werner added, Congressional inaction is resulting in the loss of good-paying jobs in Pueblo.
 


The Philadelphia Inquirer on Monday became the most recent major newspaper to endorse an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), calling the revival of the shuttered U.S. Steel plant in Bucks County the “best case” for renewing the vital incentive.

Added the editorial, “It’s at the old Fairless Works that the Spanish turbine manufacturer Gamesa has employed hundreds of people, and where predicted layoffs affecting 20 percent of the firm’s Pennsylvania workforce would hit hard.

“Gamesa has grown by leaps, building wind-power equipment and wind farms that generate 40 percent of the state’s wind power–all while relying on domestic suppliers for an increasingly large share of its components.”

The PTC, the Inquirer noted, provides an incentive to wind project developers based solely on the actual production from a wind farm that is already up and operating, so there is no risk to the government.

It concluded, “Of course, there are critics who say wind power will have to stand on its own some day. But with the nation’s reliance on wind power standing at only three percent–far below potential–that day has not arrived.”

The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale wind turbines. It is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it first. A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that extending the Production Tax Credit will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration would kill 37,000 jobs within a year.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 110 cosponsors, including 25 Republicans, while a similar Senate bill is cosponsored by seven Senators, including three Republicans.  PTC extension efforts have received the endorsement of a broad coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Western Governors’ Association. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Governors Association, and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.  A PTC extension has been endorsed by a number of newspapers across the country, including the Des Moines Register, the Denver Post, the Daily Oklahoman, the Toledo Blade, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, The New York Times, and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Further endorsements of the wind energy production tax credit.


The Red Wing (Minn.) Republican-Eagle Wednesday joined the ranks of newspapers across the country supporting an extension of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

In its editorial, the Republican-Eagle noted that low natural gas prices and soft electricity demand due to the ongoing sluggishness of the economy are hampering wind power, adding, "But the delay in extending the production tax credit is a major contributor to a condition industries and investors hate: uncertainty."

That uncertainty, it said, played a role in the decision of Otter Tail Power Co. to sell its subsidiary DMI, which manufactures wind turbine towers.  And the economic harm if the PTC is not renewed soon, the newspaper said, will not stop with DMI: 

"For example, at least one major Fargo construction company counts about half its business in wind farm work. Two firms in the metro area build substations and electrical systems for the wind industry. Engineering firms in the Red River Valley sell services to renewable energy companies.

"When it’s added up, the potential economic damage is more than the possible loss of [jobs at firms manufacturing turbine components]. Small communities have benefited from wind farms, including new taxes generated for counties, townships and school districts. If wind power shuts down–or the promise of more wind power is not realized–rural economies will take a hit …

"Business and industry cannot plan in a climate of uncertainty. In a new and evolving clean-energy business like wind power, uncertainty is a killer. The least Congress can do in today’s challenging energy market is provide a measure of certainty by extending the credit at least five years."