It is common practice for the government to release bad news on a Friday, hoping that no one will notice. But today the Obama Administration announced good news: the award of $2.3 billion worth of tax credits for renewable energy manufacturers, including $350 million in awards that will be used to help finance at least 50 new wind energy manufacturing facilities.
The awards are another piece of the economic recovery package that was enacted soon after Obama took office, and that has played a significant role in keeping the wind industry moving forward despite the recession and credit crunch.
Today's announcement also is a reminder that, in addition to being an inexhaustible and non-polluting energy source, wind energy has the potential to create thousands of manufacturing jobs. The Obama Administration has understood this from the outset, and fashioned its energy policy around the green jobs concept.
“The U.S. wind energy industry appreciates the speed with which the Administration is providing this support,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. Manufacturing momentum in the wind industry has all but disappeared, despite a significant increase in the volume of actual wind projects installed in the United States last year. The tax incentives make it easier for companies to build new manufacturing facilities and expand or retool existing ones.
But to get workers into those plants filling orders for new turbine components, the industry needs to see increased demand–a market to sell into. For that to happen, we need a national policy commitment to wind in the form of a renewable electricity standard, which requires utilities to generate a specific percentage of their electricity from non-polluting, renewable resources like wind energy. That will take action from Congress this year.