Editorial: Congress: Pass energy tax credit
Op-Ed · May 11, 2012

American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act, which can help businesses like Acciona Windpower in West Branch, is stalled in committee. It has been there since Nov. 2.

The House Ways and Means Committee needs to move on HR 3307, get it to the House floor and onward to the Senate and White House, giving alternative energy companies the stability and certainty investors greatly desire.

Wind power needs time. The technology works, and its cost is very close to coal. According to Pure Energy Systems Wiki, coal costs 4.8 to 5.5 cents to produce one kilowatt hour. Wind is between 4 and 6 cents.

And the PTC, in place since 1992, has been working. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 1999, America had only 15 states with the ability to produce up to 2,472 megawatts of electricity. In 2011, that increased to 39 states producing 46,919 MW.

But that still pales in comparison to coal, which in 2009 accounted for more than 314,000 megawatts in the United States. U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley, R, and Tom Harkin, D, of Iowa joined in a statement with other senators which points out that in the past five years, 35 percent of new electric generation in the United States comes from wind.

Clean energy is in our national interest, reducing our reliance on coal and, thus, producing fewer carbon emissions. U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa City, in a letter to ranking members of the Ways and Means committee, notes that 40,000 MW of windpower supplants 83.5 million tons of carbon pollution.

His letter also notes that in the years where the PTC was not renewed, wind turbine installation dropped between 79 and 93 percent.

Of all the alternative energy possibilities, including hydro and solar, wind is the least expensive to produce. But companies need to build more turbines and create more profit to be able to afford to expand at a significant rate.

Thankfully, Acciona has enough business right now to fill orders into next year, but they are for wind farms outside of the United States.

After that, both Acciona and other wind energy companies, face uncertainty. The U.S. Congress needs to act on the PTC to extend it through 2016.

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