Tom Kiernan, AWEA: Wind will “fall off a cliff” without PTC renewal

Reading’s January 26, 2015 interview with the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association is an eye-opener.

Despite repeated assurances that the U.S. wind industry is “vibrant” and competitive, Tom Kiernan flatly admits that without further extensions of decades worth of government subsidies, the wind industry still could not compete. In fact the industry would (in his words) “fall off a cliff” if the PTC were discontinued.

Tom Kiernan: I think the PTC needs to be extended. It’s proven to be a very successful, productive, effective policy that has now generated 73,000 jobs throughout the country, 500 manufacturing facilities. This is an industry that is vibrant, but we don’t want it to fall off a cliff by not having the PTC extended again. It needs to be extended so that the industry can have some predictability and a reasonable, stable policy going forward.

Monica Trauzzi: But if the industry is as strong as it is, it’s not going to fall off a cliff if the PTC goes away.

Tom Kiernan: Back in 2013 when there was uncertainty then about the extension, we lost 30,000 jobs. We saw a 92 percent drop in the industry because of that uncertainty. We don’t want that to happen again. We’re looking for reasonable policy going forward.

Monica Trauzzi: But that’s a reflection on the uncertainty. If there were certainty that it was not going to be extended, then the industry would have no choice but to figure out how to make it work.

Tom Kiernan: Costs have come down 58 percent in the last five years, and right now we have some places in the country where we might be able to compete without the PTC. But there are large portions — the vast majority of the country — we still need the PTC so that we can have the manufacturing facilities fully operational. Frankly, and providing low-cost, reliable electricity consumers. So we do need the PTC extended, and we’re looking forward to working with folks on both sides of the aisle to come up with that predictable extension to the PTC so that we can make the investments that we need.

Kiernan goes on to claim that “tax relief” given to other energy sectors (by which I assume he means tax provisions such as depreciation allowances) is the same as direct infusions of tax dollars.

I always find it interesting to hear how a “vibrant” and competitive industry, that also enjoys special legal and regulatory mandates that protect its market share, will still “fall off a cliff” if it doesn’t continue to receive billions in subsidies.

02. February 2015 by Jason Hayes
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