Friday, August 26, 2011

24 Governors Call on President Obama to Develop Wind Energy, Extend Tax Credits

I'm hoping that the President's Really Big Speech after Labor Day hits on green energy jobs again. Remember that earlier this year, in a Gallup survey on eight actions that Congress could take, "pass a bill that provides incentives for using solar and other alternative energy sources" came in first place with a 83% approval. I doubt that has changed over the past six months, as the issue still draws wide bipartisan support, evidenced as follows.

Last month, a group of 24 governors, who have formed the Governors' Wind Energy Coalition, called on the President to address the nation's "most pressing needs" of jobs, energy and economic development by using renewable energy resources - and they want current production tax credits extended years out to bring certainty to the market. And yes, Governor Snyder is on the list.

“Although tax credits for wind energy have long enjoyed bipartisan support, they are scheduled to expire next year. Wind-related manufacturing will slow if the credits are not extended, and some of the tax credits’ benefit will be lost if Congress pursues a last-minute extension. It is important to have consistency in policy to support the continued development of wind manufacturing in the United States. Extending the production tax credit and the investment tax credit, without a gap, is critical to the health of wind manufacturing in our nation. The wind manufacturing industry in the U.S. would benefit even greater if the extension of these credits would be for at least seven years.”

And it's not just a bunch of Dem governors and a few so-called moderates; we've got some of the teabagger types here, too. Scott of Florida, Brownback of Kansas, Lepaige of Maine, a very diverse group of names appear on that letter to the President. Add this to the many Republican presidential contenders who made a big show in Iowa of signing a turbine blade to support wind energy, and it's hard to see how the Republicans as a whole could say no to this extension.

Perhaps all those names above could be used to persuade some R's in the House, and if not, call 'em out on it. If we don't do it, we will start losing the jobs that we have already created in wind manufacturing. One Michigan example of how this credit helps the entire supply chain is Danotek of Canton, who makes turbine generators. Congressman Dingell visited them recently.

With pending orders of more than $50 million, Danotek relies on a chain of 18 Michigan suppliers, including several in the Detroit area, for the parts and services that go into its products. The company has grown from 12 employees in March 2009 to almost 70 today, recruited from around the globe, including nine with Ph.D. degrees.

“We have created this technical melting pot in the Detroit area,” the chief executive officer, Don Naab, told Dingell.

Naab asked Dingell for support, particularly for the renewal of the production tax credit, or PTC, which offers wind farms a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity produced through utility-sized wind turbines. The PTC, first launched in 1992, is set to expire at the end of next year. Danotek doesn't receive the credit directly, but gets a “major trickledown benefit” from it, as do suppliers and turbine manufacturers, said Sarah Zajas, the company's marketing director.

Dingell didn't sound too confident that it was going to happen, but these credits need to be extended if we are to remain even remotely competitive with China, and we need to have them be extended for a longer time period than just a year.

If the House blocks it, then they can answer to their constituents when these jobs dry up - if the Dems make sure and point it out, that is.