In some of my past show recaps, you’ll sense my frustration with the dissent between parties over renewable energy decisions—particularly the PTC. One former member of FERC noted at a recent wind event that Democrats and Republicans used to agree on clean-energy policy until, basically, Solyndra. Even though this was a horrible loss of tax payer dollars and a crisis for the company and its employees, I believe it should be not representative of the U.S. renewable industry as a whole (see the blog by Frank Andorka, editorial director of our sister publication Solar Power World). Political comments and negative publicity gave renewables a bad rap. The administration’s critics used it to throw Obama under the bus and bash renewable energy proponents.
I’ve said before that solar and wind energy need bipartisan support. Everyone needs to be on the same team. This isn’t a trivial matter such as national lemon-aid Wednesdays (though that would be rather pleasant during the summer time). This is about supporting an industry that is critical to energy independence, increased power demand, and jobs.
Thankfully, a recent development has shed positive light on skepticism of the government’s ability to get anything useful done during an election year. Democratic and Republican lawmakers said they BOTH supported an extension of the PTC during a recent House Ways and Means subcommittee (hallelujah!). The hearing was an early step by the House of Representatives on the consideration of comprehensive reform of the tax code. “Whether we agree on energy policy or not, the tax credit has become widely accepted,” Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla stated. The subcommittee is also considering phasing down the PTC as part of its extension.
This is all the wind industry has been asking the government to do. We aren’t asking for the PTC to be around forever—it’s not meant to be. But we do need a little more time to get our feet firmly planted. Bloomberg reports that there is debate on how long the PTC should be extended—two years, three years, one?
That’s fine. In fact that’s just perfectly peachy, because there really is no clear answer with these things. Countries all over the world are facing the same problem: How long to keep PTCs around. What’s important is that the wind industry needs one right now and our lawmakers are discussing, debating, and will hopefully pass legislation before year’s end. (My bet is still after the November election, probably just in the nick of time).
The PTC extension has ramifications that make it an important part of our economy and our energy future. So get on the bandwagon and make sure your state representatives hear your support for the credit. Developments like this bipartisan support shows that the Feds are listening.
By: WPE&D Associate Editor Kathie Zipp