Extenders markup slipping as wind backers step up PTC campaign
To that end, the American Wind Energy Association today invited reporters to hear from two executives whose companies manufacture wind farm components, and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition released a letter to congressional leaders urging an extension of the credit.
The common theme from both groups today was touting the number of jobs that exist in the industry and the risk those workers face because of the uncertain, boom-and-bust nature of federal tax and energy policy.
The PTC has been around since 1992, but it is rarely extended for more than a year or two at a time, and it currently is not available for new wind projects. However, any facilities where construction started — or where a nominal investment was made — before the end of last year still qualify, due to expanded eligibility that accompanied the one-year extension enacted in January 2013.
By expanding eligibility for the credit last year, Congress provided some breathing room for companies in the industry, but another extension is needed to stave off another downturn in activity, said Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens Energy’s wind business in the Americas.
“Right now, from a manufacturing standpoint, we feel good for the next 14 to 15 months,” he said on a conference call today.
That means enough orders were placed to keep Siemens factories running in the near term, because developers hurried to place turbine orders for projects last year that remain eligible for the credit.
But AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan pointed out that no new projects are being developed in the absence of a PTC extension. “So the very early part of the pipeline has dried up again,” he said.