New report on wind energy highlights need for tax credits

According to a report released today by the American Wind Energy Association, the wind energy sector could provide at least 14,000 additional manufacturing jobs in the next few years if current tax credits are expanded and new policies are enacted.
The “Winds of Change” report &#151 a collaborative effort by AWEA, the BlueGreen Alliance and the United Steelworkers &#151 emphasizes the need for a domestic supply chain for producing wind turbines, supported by billions of dollars in production tax credits authorized by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 and the American Renewable Energy Jobs Act.
Rob Gramlich, senior vice president for public policy at AWEA, said the policies supporting wind energy fluctuate more than those for other forms of energy, causing many investors to view wind energy as a risky endeavor.
He said the proposals outlined in the report, particularly the need for a renewable electricity standard (RES), would provide “clarity” for manufacturers and boost investor confidence. The proposed RES would require 25 percent of the country’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2025.
Wind accounted for 3.6 percent of all energy generated in the U.S. in 2009, the report said, almost triple the level in 2008. However, the Energy Information Agency &#151 the statistical and analytical arm of the Department of Energy &#151 predicts it will rise to just 4.1 percent of total generation by 2030.

In a recent report, the Institute for Energy Research said this “tapering off” is unavoidable.
“It will be more difficult for wind to compete with traditional technologies due to increased costs of less accessible sites and/or less wind resource availability.”
The IER report added that wind energy receives much larger subsidies than other energy sectors, such as coal, when power generation is taken into account. For example, in 2007, wind produced 0.4 percent of total electricity, while receiving 2.8 percent of all federal subsidies. “Per kilowatt-hour, this was 14.7 times higher than the amount allocated to coal,” according to the report.
Supporters of wind energy say if the U.S. does not implement policies such as the RES, manufacturing jobs will move elsewhere, and U.S. manufacturers, like those who produce the steel for wind turbines, will be unable to compete against cheaper imported materials.
Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, said the U.S. needs to “level the playing field,” through further tax credits and loan guarantees designed to build a stronger supply chain and modernize the electricity grid.
He added: “We’re not going to stand on the sidelines and let imports push us out of the game.