Opinion: Renew wind tax credit
The following opinion article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Monday and is reprinted here with permission of the author. Aitor Sotes is chief executive officer of Ingeteam, Inc.
Milwaukee's manufacturing roots run strong. With its easy access to Lake Michigan and other waterways, industry has been an important part of the region's fabric, from the 19th century well into the 20th. Those waterways–along with the region's railroads, and, later, highways–bustled with the movement of goods made with pride in Milwaukee and in many other Wisconsin cities and towns. Today, Milwaukee's manufacturing might is awakening, and Ingeteam is tapping that very strength and know-how.
After a thorough search just a few years ago, Ingeteam, Inc., which produces electrical generators and converters among other products, chose Milwaukee for a new manufacturing plant that in large part could meet burgeoning demand from the U.S. wind power industry, which already employs 75,000 Americans–30,000 in manufacturing alone. Now firmly cemented as a reliable, mainstream energy source, wind power contributed 35% of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. during the last five years, second only to natural gas.
The 148,000-square-foot Ingeteam facility, which currently is in the ramp-up of producing its first production pieces, is targeted to be home to 275 brand-new manufacturing jobs by 2015. Ingeteam is proud to work with the people of Wisconsin in serving the wind energy industry and helping to power America. The Ingeteam plant epitomizes how wind power is tapping America's–and Wisconsin's–roots, leading a renaissance in American manufacturing.
The primary federal tax incentive for wind energy, known as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Yet despite wind power (and the PTC) being extremely popular and having strong bipartisan support, Congress still has not passed an extension, with partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., placing the very future of the U.S. wind power industry in peril. A recent study has shown that if Congress fails to act and allows the tax credit to expire, America will lose a full 37,000 of its 75,000 wind industry jobs.
The tax credit has not been allowed to expire since President George W. Bush last extended it in 2005, creating an unprecedented stable policy environment that allowed wind power to become the mainstream energy source that it is today.
Fortunately, many members of Congress understand the importance of the tax credit to America and the urgency of the situation. Recently, more than 100 Republican and Democratic members of the House of Representatives, as well as a bipartisan group of senators, introduced legislation to extend the tax credit. It's no surprise that Congress is getting the message, given that groups ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers to the Steelworkers and Farm Bureau have expressed support for a tax credit extension.
Today, few policies garner the kind of bipartisan support the Production Tax Credit has attained. That's because, plain and simple, it's an effective piece of legislation that works. It works for Wisconsin, and it works for America. Now it's up to Congress to take action. We urge all residents of Wisconsin to share their support for the tax credit with their representatives in Washington.
[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 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 105 cosponsors, including 24 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 Houston Chronicle,The New York Times, the Denver Post, the Daily Oklahoman, and the Toledo Blade.
[Further endorsements of the wind energy production tax credit.]