DOE under secretary's Iowa wind manufacturing visits--an opportunity for engagement: tweet @ your reps to thank them for supporting wind, creating jobs

Acting Department of Energy Under Secretary David Sandalow is in Iowa today visiting Des Moines-based Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Co, and ACCIONA Windpower’s wind turbine assembly plant further east in West Branch. During his visits to the wind manufacturing plants, two of 50 in the state, Sandalow is expected to highlight the vast gains Iowa has made in its wind power generating capacity, the nearly 7,000 jobs that the industry supports in the state, and the critical policy—the Production Tax Credit, or PTC—that has enabled the industry to flourish.

Iowa, largely due to its strong wind resource and policy support, is a leader in the wind industry. But its recent growth could slow dramatically if the PTC, which pays wind operators 2.2 cents for every kWh of wind electricity they generate for the first ten years of operation, is allowed to expire at the end of the year. The PTC creates market certainty and has helped drive wind energy costs down through learning and scale. Despite bipartisan Congress support and the President’s call to extend the policy, a bill has yet to be passed and so 37,000 jobs, and the stability of the wind industry at large, is at stake.

Iowa Senators @SenatorHarkin and @ChuckGrassley, and Representatives @LeonardBoswell and @daveloebsack, who represent the districts in which Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Co and ACCIONA Windpower are housed, recognize the importance of the PTC to economic growth in their state and districts. Today, @NRDCRenewables invites you to tweet to them to thank them for their leadership in this important issue.

As our resource and facility map shows, In the middle of the windy Great Plains, Iowa generates close to 19 percent of its power from wind, more than 4,000 MW to power the equivalent of more than one million homes. The growth of this homegrown energy source has been rapid, with the state’s overall capacity increasing from 921 MW in 2006 to 4,322 MW by the end of 2011.

While Iowa is a leader in the share of electricity it generates from wind, second only to South Dakota, it is part of a broader U.S.-wide trend: the portion of electricity generated from wind has more than doubled from 2008 to 2011. Enabling this growth have been key policies like the PTC, which have encouraged better technologies, and drastic cost declines: since 1980, the cost of wind has decreased by more than 90%. The nearly 500 facilities in the U.S. manufacturing wind components have also helped drive down costs; today, 60 percent of a wind turbine’s value is produced in America, compared to 25 percent as recently as 2005.

The wind industry is also creating critical jobs across the U.S., and it currently employs 75,000 workers. From manufacturers to research and developers to workers constructing wind farms themselves—and even operators climbing towers to service them—the wind industry employs a diverse cross-section of American workers.

But the $15 billion annual private investment that has been typical over the past five years is in jeopardy, and, if history holds true, could decrease by as much as 90 percent next year.

The PTC has been allowed to expire several times in the past, and each time saw catastrophic job losses and project delays. Already, the wind industry is reporting layoffs. Without any certainty over the policy, developers are delaying plans to construct wind farms, depressing shocks throughout the entire supply chain. Manufacturers, with fewer domestic orders to fill, are laying off plant workers. Construction workers have fewer projects to construct.

To prevent further job losses, Congress needs to act to extend the PTC. In Iowa, all five of its House Representatives, and both Senators Grassley and Harkin recognize the importance of this industry to the state, and to the nation as a whole. They have already sponsored or cosponsored legislation that will extend this critical tax credit and enable the industry to continue deploying America’s homegrown, clean, renewable energy sources, while tapping into the ingenuity and know-how of our country’s workers.

So to thank Iowa’s senators and representatives for their leadership in fostering wind energy development, tweet to Senators @SenatorHarkin or @ChuckGrassley, or Representatives @LeonardBoswell and @daveloebsack. Tell them that you support the U.S. wind industry also, and its economic, environmental, and societal benefits. We can’t cede the progress of this important industry, and its 75,000 jobs, overseas. Our representatives and senators need to hear from you to keep it moving forward.