A coalition of 24 governors from both major parties and each region of the country are asking the Obama administration to provide a more favorable business environment to further develop the wind industry in the US.
Last month, the governors sent a letter to the White House discussing how important it is that supportive policies remain in place. In particular, they want a seven-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to provide stable, low tax rates for wind-generated electricity and to encourage further investment.
The Governors Wind Energy Coalition made the letter public this week. It says:
"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 governors' letter also calls for:
- Establishing a combined intergovernmental state-federal task force on wind development to "ensure the Administration's wind energy goals are met."
- Expanding the Department of Energy's renewable energy programs to "focus not only on technology research and innovation, but also on technology deployment and market development," noting that, "these are precisely the types of efforts other nations are utilizing to successfully compete with the United States. We must recognize that a scientific breakthrough five or 10 years from now, plus several more years for commercial acceptance, will be of little value if our wind industry has been relegated to minor players in the global marketplace."
- Improved collaboration on siting new wind turbines: "... [W]e believe wind energy and wildlife protection are entirely compatible and we urge a prompt resolution of the Wind Energy Guidelines and Eagle Guidance concerns."
- Expediting deployment of offshore wind: "A new U.S. offshore wind sector would create tens of thousands of wind jobs ranging from R&D and engineering to manufacturing and marine construction."
- Identifying transmission and grid integration priorities for Power Marketing Administrations such as the Bonneville Power Administration
The 24 governors' letter concluded, "We believe these actions will help address some of the national economic and energy challenges before our nation. We look forward to working with you and your Administration to further our nation's wind energy development to help drive economic growth, energy development, and the creation of high-paying jobs."
On the campaign trail, President Obama met with small business owners this month in a Guttenberg, Iowa diner. In the group was Rob Hach of Anemometry Specialists, a weather tower company based in Alta, Iowa, that surveys locations for wind turbines. Hach pressed for the Production Tax Credit's extension, as did the governors.
At the Republican straw poll Aug. 13 in Ames, Iowa, six GOP presidential candidates including Mitt Romney signed their names on a 130-foot turbine blade to show their support for the wind industry.
As he signed the wind blade, GOP candidate Newt Gingrich said he favors a 10-year extension of wind incentives to avoid the "up-and-down effect" associated with dramatic policy changes. "If you're going to have tax credits that are designed to create investment, they have to have a long enough time horizon that people who invest believe that they'll be there," Gingrich says.
Governors play a major role in promoting wind energy. In Iowa, Gov. Branstad signed the nation's first renewable energy standard during his first year in office in 1983. Iowa is the first state to generate 20% of its electricity from wind, a goal which the GW Bush administration predicted the entire nation could reach by 2030.
Wind is also big business in Texas, where over 10,000 megawatts (MW) has been installed while Rick Perry has been governor.
"Governors have always focused on jobs and economic development as their main responsibility. Now that Washington is following suit, it helps for these Governors to tell Washington what has been putting people to work in their states," says AWEA CEO Denise Bode. "It is also helpful for them to support the removal of roadblocks that can occur in administrative agencies, so that deployment objectives are not unintentionally thwarted."