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U.S. Wind Energy Industry in a Holding Pattern?

March 26, 2012

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - The potential loss of a federal wind energy tax credit would have a major impact on new development, according to industry experts. Jay Johnson is the wind energy technician program coordinator at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake. He says history shows the production tax credit (PTC) is vital for investment - and the jobs his students are training for.

"We can see that it rises and falls - a direct correlation between the times that there is a production tax credit available and when it is not. Essentially, when there's no production tax credit, investment in renewable energy drops. Plain and simple."

The credit is set to expire at the end of this year. Delayed decisions on its renewal already have some sectors of the industry in somewhat of a holding pattern.

While some people only think of oil when they think of North Dakota, Johnson says the state is no slouch when it comes to wind energy.

"Across the state it's very good, with two just incredible production areas that run down the Missouri River escarpment in the west and to the east, along what's called the Pembina escarpment. They're high-production areas; wind sites located there out-produce anybody in the U.S."

Jimmy Glotfelty is the co-founder of Clean Line Energy. He says without the credit it will be more difficult for the U.S. to meet growing energy demands, landowners could lose millions in additional income from leasing or selling their land to wind farms, and counties would likely see less in tax revenues from wind facilities.

He describes the uncertainty in waiting for a Congressional decision as harmful to jobs, too.

"Companies should already be producing components for 2013. Those orders are not happening right now because people are waiting to see if the tax credit is going to be renewed or not."

Glotfelty stresses that any extension of the credit would be temporary, because as the industry grows, the credit will no longer be needed. He says he has not found much opposition to the credit, but timing has been an issue in Congress, with very few pieces of legislation moving through.

More information is available at http://dsireusa.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND