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    Wind Energy Tax Credit

    by Former Senator Mark Udall

    Posted on 2013-01-04

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    UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, today marks my 28th time here on the Senate floor to talk about the Production Tax Credit for wind energy. Twenty-seven other times I stood here--oftentimes joined by like-minded colleagues from around the country--to urge Congress to extend this vital tax credit, which has helped the wind [[Page S21]] industry create tens of thousands of jobs and spur tens of billions of dollars in investment. And Coloradans have been with me the whole way.

    Well, Mr. President, 27 must be a lucky number--because today, I am thrilled to use my time to thank my colleagues for making the extension of the PTC a reality. Earlier this week, Congress came together across party lines to do the right thing to assist our fragile economic recovery.

    Throughout my previous efforts here on the floor, I talked a lot about jobs. From Colorado to Kansas, Oregon and Maine and the Carolinas, my remarks always came back to one simple but true statement: the PTC equals jobs.

    These are good-paying jobs for hardworking Americans. From gearboxes in Georgia to wind blades in Rhode Island to towers in Colorado, the construction of wind turbines has invigorated an entire supply chain. Factories in the Midwest have been retooled to make steel components that are shipped to places like Iowa, where cutting edge composite materials are used to make state of the art blades for turbines that ultimately create wind farms built with labor from local construction workers. That's thousands of jobs across this country.

    Wind generates clean, renewable energy, which helps move our country toward a more secure energy future. This is clean, American energy that does not produce carbon dioxide pollution--and by making it here at home, it helps us become less reliant on foreign nations for our energy security.

    These wind farms are also paying dividends to towns and counties across America, benefitting the families who live there and the small businesses that operate there. The tax revenues from wind turbines have allowed communities to build new schools and roads, as well as provide other basic services. These additional sources of income have been especially important during the recent economic downturn, where the budgets of many states and rural communities have been stretched thin. Quite simply, wind energy jobs have a positive ripple effect wherever they are.

    I am relieved that after months of uncertainty as to whether or not the PTC would be extended, Congress has finally done the commonsense thing, making sure we did not lose this vital tax credit. Although it was my preference to have Congress act much sooner and prevent the thousands of layoffs that resulted from the uncertainty Congress created, I am pleased that we have finally acted for the good of our constituents.

    With the passage of the PTC, the wind industry can get back to doing the important work of moving America toward a clean energy future, a direction that will benefit middle-class American workers and ensure America leads the world in clean energy manufacturing, even as foreign competitors like China work to surpass us.

    And the final language passed by Congress will have an immediate and positive impact on the construction of new wind farms. This year, projects will be eligible to take advantage of the PTC if construction begins before the end of 2013, rather than racing to complete the project by the end of the year. This commonsense change in the law will encourage larger, longer-term projects over the course of the next few years as opposed to just in 2013, which is particularly important since Congress did not pass the extension until the very last minute.

    I was not alone in this fight. Coloradans motivated me to keep up the battle the entire time. And many of my colleagues--both Republicans and Democrats--joined me. In particular, I would like to thank Senator Grassley of Iowa--the ``father of the wind PTC''--for his efforts to get this done.

    Senator Baucus and Senator Bingaman have also been long-time champions of the PTC on the Finance Committee, and were an integral part of the fight to extend it. My good friend and colleague from Colorado Senator Bennet has also been a strong supporter of the PTC, joining me in speeches, letters, and legislation. Senator Moran of Kansas has been right there with us as well.

    And many more members from both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol supported these efforts. The broadly bipartisan and bicameral group was driven by a mutual commitment to creating jobs, simultaneously improving our economy and economic competitiveness while moving us toward a more secure energy future.

    Despite the importance of the wind PTC extension, there is still much more work to do. This extension only lasts until the end of 2013. So, although we might want to take a breather, we cannot. Instead, we must begin work today on a path forward that will give the wind industry much-needed certainty over the long term. Without certainty, businesses cannot do the long-term planning that is necessary to robustly grow and add good-paying American jobs. And, this time, we cannot wait until the last minute to do it. We must work together to find a plan that allows this industry to reach maturity and thrive while also being fiscally responsible. Yes, that means a gradual phase-out of the wind PTC in the coming years--but my goal is to get Congress to also work together on comprehensive energy legislation that creates long-term certainty for all energy sources. I strongly believe that any national energy policy we develop should reflect the success Colorado has had as an all-of- the-above energy State.

    Again, I want to thank my colleagues who worked alongside me to push the wind PTC extension over the finish line. This is hugely important to maintaining American jobs, manufacturing prowess, and energy security. It's a win for Colorado and it's a win for us all.


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