By ACORE CEO and President, Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn
During the final sprint to Election Day, Americans will hear political leaders point fingers as they attempt to explain why the U.S. is experiencing slow domestic job growth. We will hear versions of an “all of the above” energy strategy, versions that may not in fact fairly embrace all of our domestic energy resources. Evidence of the lack of consistent support for all sources of energy abounds in Congress’s failure to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) even as the wind industry has been making significant gains in previous years. If leaders of any party want to truly establish “all of the above” energy strategy that embraces all sources of energy--natural gas, fossil fuels, and renewable energy--on a level playing field, the PTC must be extended.
The looming expiration of the PTC has caused over 800 layoffs at Vestas manufacturing plants in Colorado and over 400 layoffs at a Siemens wind turbine manufacturing plant in Iowa. It’s also caused Kaydon Corporation to shut down a South Carolina manufacturing plant that produces wind turbine components. If the PTC expires after 2012, 37,000 more Americans will be in jeopardy of losing their jobs. For a tax credit that generates $10-20 billion in private investment every year, there is no reason the PTC should not be extended.
Wind power is a significant part of our domestic energy mix and it provides jobs and cost-competitive electricity to many Americans. In South Carolina for example, over 1,000 jobs are credited to the wind industry. Clemson University is striving to tap the potential of South Carolina’s offshore wind potential, constructing a testing facility for offshore wind turbines in North Charleston. In recent weeks, numerous studies have shown that South Carolina’s economy would greatly benefit from developing offshore wind farms. Clemson University’s Restoration Institute and Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs found that a 1,000-megawatt offshore wind farm off the South Carolina coast would create over 38,000 well-paying jobs over ten years.
In 2011, almost 75% of wind turbine equipment was manufactured in the United States. This past summer, American jobs credited to the wind industry reached more than 75,000 jobs. Yet unfortunately, even with these recent successes of the wind industry in the United States, Congress’s inability to extend the Production Tax Credit deflates belief that America will actually adopt an all-inclusive “all of the above” energy strategy.
Congress needs to extend the PTC, with a longer horizon so that businesses have the time to develop financing and get steel in the ground. With the certainty and support of the PTC, American wind manufacturing can begin to grow again and can continue to compete on a global scale. We need policies that strengthen industries that allow U.S. manufacturing to compete globally while making America more energy secure. America needs to come together to support the American wind industry with the PTC, taking the first step to adopting a true “all of the above” energy strategy while creating more jobs and opportunities for Americans.
Vice Admiral Dennis V. McGinn is the President and CEO of the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE). Vice Admiral McGinn is also co-chairman of the CNA Military Advisory Board and commanded the U.S. Third Fleet during his 35 year career with the U.S. Navy.