Major U.S. consumer brands on extending the PTC: Just Do It!

Wind Farm

Staples, Starbucks, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co., Campbell Soup, Yahoo and other large corporate purchasers of renewable energy delivered a letter last week to Congressional leadership asking for an extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), currently scheduled to expire at the end of this year, but effectively expiring now for U.S. manufacturers.

The letter calls on Congress to include an extension of the PTC in pending payroll tax-cut extension legislation. Failing to extend the incentive would immediately threaten over 400 wind manufacturing facilities in 43 states that risk layoffs and shutdowns for lack of orders.

The letter was signed by 15 companies, many of them members of Business for Innovative Climate & Clean Energy (BICEP). Some of the companies signing the letter, including Starbucks and Staples, get over half of their US electricity from wind and other renewable energy sources.

“The PTC has enabled the wind industry to slash wind energy costs–90 percent since 1980–a big reason why companies like ours are buying increasing amounts of wind energy,” the letter states, adding, “Failure to extend the PTC for wind would tax our companies and thousands of others like us that purchase significant amounts renewable energy and hurt our bottom line at a time when the economy is struggling to recover.”

The companies warned Congress that “eliminating the PTC will sharply increase prices for wind energy and particularly affect the many large and influential companies that are already committed to buying and using wind energy.“

It will also shut down much of a thriving U.S. manufacturing sector, one of the fastest-growing sources of factory jobs even in the depths of the economic slowdown.

Corporate leaders across diverse industries are rapidly increasing their use of wind energy.  Wind energy serves to bring down the marginal costs for electric power, enabling large power purchasers to incorporate wind power into their energy portfolios at a competitive price and making them better prepared to handle volatility in the market.

“We’re proud to be one of the nation’s largest purchasers of American wind energy,” said Ben Packard, VP Global Responsibility at Starbucks. “We’re committed to renewable energy. Our goal is to make renewables account for 100 percent of our energy portfolio in the next two years.”

Commented Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, which coordinates BICEP, “America is on the verge of establishing a world-leading wind industry that will give U.S. companies a powerful and permanent competitive advantage: a cheap, clean, and inexhaustible supply of electricity that is immune to global fuel price shocks and the international crises that cause them.” She added in a blog post for Forbes that "The economic fallout from failure to extend the PTC would be substantial. The wind power industry would lose an estimated 40,000 jobs and be stopped in its tracks, signaling U.S. readiness to cede the $6 trillion clean energy business opportunity to China and Europe."

The Production Tax Credit for wind has been in place without interruption since 2005 and has led to 47 GW of new wind capacity, equal to about 94 power plants, spurring nearly $70 billion in private investment.  Largely owing to the PTC, wind energy accounted for 35% of new electrical generation capacity installed in the past four years, and now supplies 20% of electricity needs in states like Iowa and South Dakota. Nationwide, the wind energy industry supplies close to 4% of electricity nationwide and is on track so far to make 20% of all of America’s electricity by the year 2030, as envisioned in a Department of Energy report issued by the George W. Bush administration.

The deadline for including an extension of the wind PTC in comprehensive payroll tax cut legislation is midnight February 29th, but action could come much sooner as House and Senate conferees wrestle with the details.

This was previously posted by Tom Gray on the American Wind Energy Association blog, read the story here...