The wind PTC has become a galvanizing issue in the U.S. Presidential campaign, with Mitt Romney against it and President Obama for it.
However, there's little hope for a decision until after the November Presidential election, when Congress returns for a lame-duck session.
The PTC passed the Senate Finance Committee in August as part of a $205 billion package that would extend various tax incentives, but it has yet to be called for a vote on the Senate floor. This week, the House Ways and Means Committee meets to discuss expiring tax credits, including the wind PTC.
Even if Congress renews the PTC at the last minute, it would only be for one year, doing little to stem business uncertainty. Numerous companies including Vestas have already idled turbine manufacturing production capacity and projects have been scrapped.
The latest casualty is Molded Fiber Glass, a wind turbine blade manufacturer in Aberdeen, South Dakota, which just laid off 92 of their 370 employees. Total layoffs for the U.S. wind industry now stand at 2,299 since the beginning of this year. Fifteen companies in 14 states are considering or have already announced layoffs or canceled projects.
Wind projects accounted for a full third of all generation capacity added to the grid last year, growing 31 percent during the year. The pace of installations quickened early this year in anticipation of the expiration of the PTC.
The U.S. wind industry supports more than 75,000 jobs in all 50 states. 20 percent of Iowa's and South Dakota's electricity comes from wind and with the right policies in place, the industry is on track to produce that amount across all of the U.S. Last month the industry hit a historic milestone - it surpassed 50 gigawatts of capacity, enough to power nearly 13 million American homes.
Next page: text of the letter from the PTC supporters: