Iowa city prospers, hopes for PTC extension

Daniel Cusick had an excellent story yesterday in the E&E trade newsletter ClimateWire, exploring the difference wind power has made to the small community of West Branch, Iowa (birthplace of President Herbert Hoover), and the potential consequences if Congress fails to extend the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which expires at the end of this year.

Because of its favorable geographic location in the center of the windy Midwest and its access to river, rail and highway transportation, the article said, Iowa has become a major hub in the expanding wind power industry (Iowa also ranks second in the nation in using wind power, according to the AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report for 2011, with 18.8% of the state's electricity coming from its abundant breezes and wind farms).  West Branch has prospered accordingly, having been chosen by wind turbine manufacturer Acciona as the location for a major factory.  Cusick quotes Acciona Windpower NA CEO Joe Baker: “It was the geographic center of the wind industry. We're here because this is where the wind blows.”

Other turbine and component manufacturers who have chosen the Hawkeye State–or, for that matter, many of its neighboring states, which have also seen an influx of new manufacturing and construction jobs from wind power–would likely say the same.  But for everyone who has been affected positively by this clean energy industry's boom, the nagging question remains: what happens next?  The uncertainty created by Congress's delay in extending the federal wind incentive clearly has the potential to disrupt the industry, causing job losses and shuttering recently opened factories.

The ClimateWire story focuses on another wind company executive, Mark Parriott, general manager of rotor blade manufacturer TPI Composites' plant in Newton, Iowa, to get a sense of the real-world impacts of Congress's deliberations on the incentive:

“[Parriott] recoils at the term 'subsidy' to refer to the PTC, arguing that tax breaks on the part of the federal government are in fact strategic investments in an industry that has proved it can create sizable amounts of clean energy as well as significant numbers of manufacturing jobs in the Midwest. 'It's one of my great frustrations because I look at the PTC as something that shouldn't be partisan,' he said, noting support for the PTC from Iowa's politically divided Senate delegation, Republican Chuck Grassley and Democrat Tom Harkin.

“'We know from experience that when these tax credits go away, there's a dramatic drop in manufacturing. We're just a bunch of regular working folks here. To be caught up in the middle of this policy debate, it's scary for people.'”

In early February, every member of Iowa's Congressional delegation, Republican and Democratic, signed a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate calling for a PTC extension.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 90 cosponsors, including 20 Republicans, and has 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, while a Senate bill to extend it was introduced March 15 by seven Senators, including Sens. Grassley and Harkin. 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 Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, the Denver Post, and the Daily Oklahoman.

Further endorsements of the wind energy production tax credit.

Related articles:

Denver Post editorial writer: PTC extension 'important to nation, Colorado,' April 11, 2012

From Nevada, Michigan, Montana: Calls for PTC extension, April 10, 2012

Sierra Club, BP agree: Extend the PTC, April 9, 2012
South Dakota newspaper joins others in endorsing PTC, April 6, 2012
National Governors Association: Extend the PTC, April 6, 2012
Sen. Bennet tours factories, pushing jobs and PTC extension, April 5, 2012
WindTV Holiday Special: Church lives mission with wind power, April 4, 2012
Montana county commissioners call for PTC extension, April 3, 2012
'Father of PTC' explains wind incentive's value, March 30, 2012
Citing 'all of above,' former FERC chair urges PTC extension, March 29, 2012
Manufacturers tell Senate panel: PTC extension urgently needed
, March 28, 2012
WindTV: Colorado county gets big boost from wind power
, March 26, 2012
Former Congressman Boucher sees PTC extension likely, March 26, 2012
WindTV: Wind power breathes new life into small Colorado town
, March 21, 2012
Citing need for certainty, BP's Landis calls for PTC extension
, March 20, 2012
In op-ed, Kansas Governor, Senator call for PTC extension
, March 19, 2012
Bipartisan group of Senators introduces bill to extend PTC
, March 16, 2012
Houston Chronicle editorial supports PTC extension, March 15, 2012
Southern Alliance head urges: Extend the PTC
, March 14, 2012
WindTV: Missouri manufacturer grows with the wind
, March 12, 2012
Oklahoma and America need wind technicians–and a PTC extension
, March 8, 2012
WindTV: An American family, powered by a paycheck from wind
, March 5, 2012
Salazar, citing 'race we cannot cede', backs extending PTC
, March 1, 2012
Kerry, Brown win praise for bipartisan support of PTC extension, February 29, 2012
Wichita Eagle editorial blog endorses PTC extension
, February 28, 2012
Daily Oklahoman: PTC extension “makes sense,” February 27, 2012
Bipartisan group of Illinois Representatives supports PTC extension
, February 24, 2012
Kansas City Star backs PTC extension, praises Brownback, Moran
, February 23, 2012
Bennet visits composites factory, urges PTC extension
, February 23, 2012
Moran visits Siemens factory, pushes PTC extension
, February 22, 2012
WindTV: PTC key to wind power manufacturing jobs
, February 21, 2012
Topeka Capital-Journal: Extend the PTC
, February 21, 2012
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA): PTC is jobs engine conservatives should support
, February 17, 2012
Bennet, Moran continue bipartisan push to extend PTC
, February 16, 2012
Major U.S. consumer brands like Nike on extending the PTC: Just Do It!
, February 15, 2012
Oklahoma Gov. Fallin urges conferees: Extend the PTC
, February 15, 2012
Michigan worker's plea: Extend PTC, help wind power create U.S. jobs
, February 13, 2012
Bipartisan letter from entire Iowa Congressional delegation urges: Extend the PTC
, February 10, 2012
Senate Energy Chairman Bingaman: Act now to save clean-energy jobs
, February 9, 2012
Bipartisan letter from Colorado Congressional delegation urges: Extend the PTC
, February 8, 2012
Republican governors push for PTC extension; Senators express support
, February 2, 2012
U.S. Chamber of Commerce joins broad range of groups endorsing PTC extension
, February 1, 2012
WindTV: Wind power drives commerce in small-town America
, January 24, 2012
Denver Post endorses PTC extension 'sooner rather than later'
, January 18, 2012
WSJ op-ed: 'Want Growth? Try Stable Tax Policy'
, January 5, 2012
Red State Energy, Red State Jobs
, November 29, 2011

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