On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate failed to renew amendments to the transportation bill that would have extended the wind production tax credit as well as a number of other renewable energy-related incentives.
Steve Patterson, executive director of the newly-formed Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, said passage of the wind PTC is integral to the growth of advanced energy jobs in Arkansas. Patterson’s group is advocating a four-year extension of the production tax credit for wind energy and a three-year reinstatement of the Biodiesel Tax Credit.
“Arkansas currently has about 550 jobs in wind manufacturing that are at risk if the PTC is not extended beyond Dec. 31, 2012,” Patterson said. He listed Nordex, Beckmann-Volmer and LM Wind Power as Arkansas companies that could cut jobs if legislation is not reinstated by the year’s end.
Patterson’s organization, which is aligned with 11-state Advance Energy Economy Federation, sent letters to each member of Arkansas’ congressional delegation asking for support of the renewable energy extension. Patterson said he received a letter from U.S. Sen. Boozman, R-Ark., indicating he supports extension of tax credit — although he voted against the Senate amendment on Tuesday. U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark, voted for the Senate amendment and is also “inclined” to support the PTC extension, Patterson said.
A recent report by the U.S. Department of Energy showing that renewable energy consumption is increasing. According to the Energy Information Administration, renewable energy consumption increased by 5.4% in 2009 to 7.8 quadrillion Btus. This follows a 9.6% increase between 2007 and 2008. These two increases, coupled with the consecutive year decreases in total energy consumption, boosted renewable energy’s share of total consumption from 6.6% in 2007 to 8.2% in 2009. This is renewable energy’s greatest share of the U.S. energy pie since 1984 when there were near record levels of hydropower.
Of that total, Wind energy grew 32% and has more than doubled since 2007, standing at 0.7 quadrillion Btus in 2009. Generation from wind turbines in the United States increased 27% in 2011 compared to 2010, continuing a trend of rapid growth. During the past five years capacity additions wind turbines were the main driver of the growth in wind power output. If Congress doesn’t pass the PTC extension soon, Arkansas and the rest of the nation stands to lose one of America’s best new sources of American manufacturing jobs.