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Expert: ‘Two Cents’ Could Bring Thousands of Jobs to Wisconsin

PHOTO: Tom Eggert, co-director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. The group is interested in the renewal of the Wind Production Tax Credit.

PHOTO: Tom Eggert, co-director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council. The group is interested in the renewal of the Wind Production Tax Credit.


November 26, 2012

MADISON, Wis. - "Two cents" may not sound like much, but it's at the heart of the debate over the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), which will expire in a few weeks if Congress doesn't renew it. Wind-power producers receive about two cents back for every kilowatt-hour of power they generate, and renewing it could help rebuild Wisconsin's manufacturing sector, according to Tom Eggert, co-director of the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council.

"We've lost 170,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000. We need to get some of those back. Some of those jobs need to be in the wind supply chain."

Eggert's organization recently released a report on the potential for technology jobs in the state, and found the connection to clean energy industries was strong, with a work force ready to go.

Michael Breen is a former Army officer who now heads the Truman National Security Project. He's making the case that many of those jobs are a perfect fit for veterans because of skills learned in the military, along with willingness to accept a challenge.

"And the clean energy sector is like that: it's a dynamic, emerging place; new solutions are being put forward that are going to make all of our lives better and make us stronger as a country. Veterans are naturally attracted to that sort of thing."

Tom Eggert says there are at least 300 companies in Wisconsin connected to the wind-energy industry, and thousands of jobs.

"So, these are all companies that supply parts or services to the wind industry. Without the Production Tax Credit, none of those companies are probably going to fail, but they're not going to grow as quickly as they otherwise would be growing."

The credit has seen bipartisan support in the past, with controversy this year centering on the cost.

Deborah Courson Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WI