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11 Governors Ask Congress to Extend Wind PTC

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11 Governors Ask Congress to Extend Wind PTC

Photo credit: Fresh Energy

A bipartisan group of governors is pushing for a multi-year extension of the soon-to-expire production tax credit (PTC) to provide more certainty to the wind industry.

The governors of Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington each signed a letter and sent it to the majority and minority leaders of Congress this week. The members of the Governors Wind Energy Coalition centered their argument around an estimated 5,000-plus layoffs that took place within the industry last year because of the impending expiration of the PTC.

The credit expired Dec. 31, 2012, but Congress temporarily extended it two days later. Still, just 1.6 megawatts of wind system installations took place during the first half of this year in the entire country.

Here is the letter addressed to U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, John Boehner, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi:

Almost a year ago, many of our citizens who work in the wind industry were subjected to an unnecessary series of layoffs and hardships because Congress failed to extend the wind energy production tax credit in a responsible and timely manner.

Across the nation—from Oregon to Vermont—thousands of Americans working in one of the nation’s most important growth energy industries lost their jobs. We were witness to the hardships that over 5,000 Americans had to endure when they lost their jobs because of the anticipated expiration of the tax credit.

After Congress passed the tax credit extension in January, the nation’s wind industry began a very troubled recovery. The clearest example is the loss of investments. In 2012, the wind industry invested nearly $25 billion. In the first six months of 2013, the wind industry installed just one turbine—a 99 percent drop in investments. This Congressionally sanctioned uncertainty has hit the nation’s wind industry incredibly hard.

The current wind energy production tax credit is due to expire on December 31, 2013. We respectfully urge you not to repeat the legislative brinksmanship of 2012 and to adopt a responsible multi-year extension of the production tax credit so that the wind industry and related industries can plan for a smooth transition to the expiration of the tax credit.

Our nation has some of the best wind resources in the world, but the lack of stable policy hinders the nation’s ability to develop them fully. The nation’s wind industry developers do not need this tax credit forever, but they do need policy certainty in the near term to bring their costs to a fully competitive level. Please support our states in the pursuit of economic strength, energy diversity, and consumer savings, by acting quickly to adopt a responsible multi-year extension, even if it reduces in value over time, of the production tax credit.

The letter was signed by:

  • John Kitzhaber, Oregon

  • Dennis Daugaard, South Dakota

  • Terry E. Branstad,  Iowa

  • Lincoln D. Chafee, Rhode Island

  • Jay Insleee, Washington

  • Steve Bullock, Montana

  • Martin O’Malley, Maryland

  • Pat Quinn, Illinois

  • Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii

  • Mark Dayton, Minnesota

  • Sam Brownback, Kansas

In addition to congressional leaders, the letter was also sent to:

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members

  • Senate Finance Committee members

  • House Ways and Means Committee members

  • Ernie Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy

  • Sally Jewell, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

  • Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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