Congress needs to keep wind energy creditPublished 4:20pm Saturday, December 8, 2012
Guest Column: By Shanelle Evens Montana
Over the last decade Minnesota has seen substantial growth in the wind industry.
In 2011, approximately 13 percent of Minnesota’s electricity was generated by the wind industry. The benefits Minnesota receives from the wind industry are not just seen when a light switch is flipped; a supply chain of businesses have grown to support an industry that now employs thousands in our state.
Even though millions of dollars in capital investment, tax revenue and landowner payments have been flooding the state, the future of the production tax credits (PTC) — which provides tax parity to the industry — is in limbo. If Congress doesn’t act soon, the PTC will expire Dec. 31.
Wind provides up to 3,000 direct and indirect jobs in Minnesota, contributes more than $7.6 million in annual property tax payments to rural communities, and paid more than $8 million in annual land lease payments to landowners. There is no particular mold for a wind industry employee. The wind industry supply chain includes steel workers, administrative assistants, construction workers, and engineers.
During the construction of a project, developers rely on rural communities to provide not only housing and food for workers but also cement, gravel and hauling equipment spurring local economic growth. Low-cost wind energy provides utilities with the ability to protect consumers from price fluctuations through the use of long-term low-cost power purchase agreements in the same way that a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage protects homeowners. An energy portfolio that also includes renewables is akin to diversifying your retirement portfolio.
The PTC provides the wind industry tax parity with other generation sources. As the industry continues to grow, consistent and stable tax policy is required for wind investments to continue. The PTC encourages private investment and is a proven job creator.
On behalf of the wind supply chain throughout Minnesota, the following companies call on our U.S. representatives and senators to provide the industry with investment certainty by enacting legislation to extend the PTC:
• Mortenson Construction, Minneapolis
• Blattner Energy, Avon
• Iberdrola Renewables, Minneapolis
• EDF Renewable Energy, Minneapolis
• RES America, Minneapolis
• Anderson Trucking Service, St Cloud
• Westwood Professional Services, Eden Prairie
• Geronimo Wind Energy, Edina
• Juwi Wind, Minneapolis
Let’s continue to put Minnesota and America back to work.
Shanelle Evens Montana is the associate for legislative affairs for EDF Renewable Energy.