A new survey shows that Ohio — the home state of House Speaker John Boehner — supports between 5,000 and 6,000 jobs in the wind industry.
But those jobs are now under imminent threat as a key tax credit for the industry nears expiration at the end of this year.
Just this week, a wind company in Ohio said it will abandon plans for a $20 million, 54-turbine project without an extension of the production tax credit (PTC). The project would create between 150-200 construction jobs for Ohioans, according to Everpower Renewables, the company building the wind farm.
The cost and price of wind electricity have come down steadily in recent years, allowing wind companies to sign power purchase agreements for as little as a few cents per kilowatt-hour. However, the glut of supply in the natural gas sector — a sector that enjoys numerous permanent tax credits for drilling and production — has made it difficult for wind producers to compete without an equivalent tax credit.
The PTC provides an owner of a wind farm with a tax credit of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of renewable electricity generated. The credit has allowed the wind industry to compete with the heavily-subsidized fossil fuel industry and expand dramatically throughout the U.S.
Under Speaker Boehner, the House of Representatives has failed to extend this key tax credit for wind — even with very strong support from many Republicans. 47 members of the Senate has also balked on the credits, voting to preserve $24 billion in oil and gas industry tax credits, while voting down the PTC for the wind industry.
In the last five years, wind has brought $20 billion of annual private investment to the U.S., according to the American Wind Energy Association. There are now 75,000 jobs across the country in wind manufacturing, operations, maintenance and education.
With the PTC under threat, the industry says it expects around 37,000 job losses in the coming year. The wind turbine manufacturer Vestas (which, coincidentally, provided the wind turbines for Ohio’s first wind project) says it will lay off 1,600 American workers if the credit is not extended.
There are reportedly no U.S. new wind projects in the works for 2013 due to the uncertainty around tax credits.
Over the last few months, numerous coalitions of bi-partisan political leaders have sent letters to Congress urging immediate passage of the PTC. Congress has continually failed to act.
Speaker Boehner says that jobs are his top priority for 2012. And he has the opportunity to save hundreds — if not thousands — in his own home state just by helping pass a simple extension of the wind tax credit.