Winergy exec: Congress dragging feet on tax credit plan
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org June 1, 2012 4:08PM
Winergy employs 380 people at its two Elgin facilities.
Updated: July 6, 2012 10:28AM
ELGIN — Congress’ failure to move on renewing a tax credit program has left the wind industry up in the air, and the head of an Elgin firm recently found himself at a White House meeting about the matter.
The Production Tax Credit program has been in place since 1992 and has been extended on and off since then, including being part of the 2009 stimulus package which kept the credits in place until the end of 2012. The PTC grants 2.2 cents in corporate income tax credit for every kilowatt hour of energy produced from wind turbines.
Terry Royer, president of Winergy Drive Systems Corp. in Elgin, was among 14 wind energy executives who recently met with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu; Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change; and Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council.
Royer, who is on the board of directors of the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce, also spoke and answered questions about the meeting at a White House press briefing that day which can be found online at www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2012/05/22/press-briefing.
According to the American Wind Energy Association website, both Congressional chambers have introduced legislation to extend the PTC this session, with a House resolution extending the credits for four years and a Senate measure proposing a two-year extension. Reports claim the Obama administration would like to PTC program to continue indefinitely.
Royer said it would make sense that the credits eventually not be offered, but ending them now would be pulling the rug out from underneath the growing industry.
Congressional support for extending the credits appears to be bipartisan, according to the AWEA, and it also includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau and more than 400 organizations and companies.
Despite this, with the presidential election on the horizon, the matter has become politicized.
Obama visited TPI Composites, a wind manufacturer in Newton, Iowa, on May 24 to highlight his push for tax credits to encourage investments in clean energy technologies. The trip was part of Obama’s effort to prod Congress to act on a “to-do list” he says is necessary to make sure the economy doesn’t lose steam.
Specifically, Obama wants Congress to renew the PTC and to expand the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, which supports American-made clean-energy manufacturing.
The president’s “to-do list” includes a series of economic initiatives he has been pushing for months, none of which has gained traction in Congress.
Advocates say renewal of the production tax credit could save thousands of jobs and bring financial certainty to the wind industry, which has been vulnerable to boom-and-bust cycles. A study commissioned by the AWEA said failure to extend the tax credit could mean the loss of as many as 37,000 U.S. jobs.
The AWEA claims there are more than 479 wind power-related manufacturing facilities across the country. Illinois ranks fourth for overall installed wind capacity in the United States, according to the AWEA, and at least 28 facilities across the state manufacture components, with more than 1,000 workers here employed in the wind energy manufacturing sector.
Royer said his firm has not come to any conclusion about potential local job loss. The company employs 380 people at its two Elgin facilities, one of which manufactures components, the other which assembles them.
The AP contributed to this story.