Future of NC Wind Industry at Stake
WILMINGTON, N. C. – The future of wind energy in North Carolina and beyond is in the hands of Congress, as lawmakers decide whether to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy, set to expire at the end of this year. It's estimated as many as 1,000 jobs could be lost in the state, and layoffs have already begun at a plant in Shelby that manufactures parts for wind turbines.
John Wojciechowski, a lead instructor in sustainable technologies at Cape Fear Community College, says with the right support, North Carolina is poised to harvest offshore wind resources.
"North Carolina has the groundwork laid for offshore wind. We may send the planning of offshore wind back to the dark ages if the whole wind industry in general gets kicked to the curb."
North Carolina has more offshore wind potential than any other East Coast state, says Wojciechowski. The Wind Investment Tax Credit, which provides a 30 percent up-front rebate for construction costs, would have an immediate impact on offshore wind development in the state if it isn’t renewed.
In states that already have a developed wind industry, the questionable future of the wind PTC, which offers 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour back to energy producers, is prompting a slowdown. And this isn't the first time the future of the credit has been in question. Wojciechowski says the situation makes it difficult for industries to plan and invest.
"This kind of schizophrenic start-and-stop – that uncertainty – has a direct impact to industry, because industry thrives on certainty."
Two major wind farms have been approved for eastern North Carolina – but without the PTC, Wojciechowski predicts it's unlikely they would proceed.