The PTC, which provides a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour credit for the production of electricity from utility-scale wind turbines, is set to expire December 31, 2012. The looming threat of its expiration has already led to widespread layoffs.
Over the past two months, we learned that Gamesa temporarily laid off 165 workers at its manufacturing plants in Pennsylvania; Clipper Windpower reduced its total work force by 32 percent in Iowa; Vestas Wind Systems is planning to cut as many as 1,600 jobs in Colorado; DMI Industries announced it would lay off 167 workers in Tulsa by November; and LM Wind Power is planning to lay off 94 full-time employees and 140 temporary workers and contractors in Arkansas.
These numbers are the beginning of a dangerous trend. The American Wind Energy Association estimates that if the PTC is allowed to expire, a total of 37,000 jobs will be lost. Rest assured, these layoffs will hit home: Pennsylvania is home to over 150 companies involved in the wind industry that support 4,000 jobs.
Allowing the PTC to expire will not only harm jobs, it will diminish gains in domestic wind manufacturing. A relatively stable commitment to the PTC over the past six years has helped turn wind energy into one of the fastest-growing manufacturing sectors in the country, with over 500 factories in 43 states. According to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) latest wind power annual report, 67 percent of the equipment used in U.S. wind power projects is now sourced domestically, almost double the reported content for 2005-2006. Failing to extend the PTC will create uncertainty, sending manufacturing jobs and plants back overseas where there is a more stable commitment to wind energy.
It’s time to put the partisan bickering aside and pass a PTC extension. The more time wasted with idle talk, the more jobs are lost each month. We must provide the wind industry with the same certainty afforded to fossil fuels and nuclear power, and pass a long-term extension of the PTC.