Published on June 5th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan1
Karl Rove & Robert Gibbs Dialogue Highlights Bipartisan Support for Wind Energy at WINDPOWER 2012
I received an email from the American Wind Power Association (AWEA) regarding its WINDPOWER 2012 conference in Atlanta this week. I’m going to repost that below, since I think it’s worth a share, but first, I just want to highlight a few points myself:
- The PTC is a critical support for a still blooming clean wind industry. It’s the type of policy support fossil fuels have baked in and have been benefiting from for years. It really, really, really needs to be extended by Congress, no matter how broken and dysfunctional Congress is these days.
- Wind power is receiving huge bipartisan support across the US. Republican governors are some of the leaders in the industry. Republican voters support it. Even many Republican Congresspeople do. Of course, Democrats support it as well. It’s really just a small number of Congresspeople (too connected to fossil fuel industries and too intent on trying to make Obama a failure, in my humble opinion) who are threatening the industry.
- Wind power is proving the US with about 75,000 jobs. About 37,000 are at stake if the PTC is not renewed/extended. This would be horrible for the US. But I think the overwhelming bipartisan support for wind will keep that from happening (however, even the delay is costing the country and resulting in job losses).
OK, now that I’ve put it in my own words, here’s AWEA’s news release (images added):
Political advisors agree that wind bucks partisan atmosphere in Washington
ATLANTA, Ga., June 5, 2012 – A solid base of bipartisan support for wind energy will—and must—spur passage of a Production Tax Credit extension this year, policy and industry leaders said today at the WINDPOWER 2012 Conference & Exhibition.
Highlighting the bipartisan nature of wind power was an engaging dialogue between Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, and Robert Gibbs, former Press Secretary and advisor to President Obama. As American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Denise Bode commented in introducing them, both administrations supported wind energy and extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC).
The two used the opportunity to exchange ideas and share in the opportunity for common ground the wind power industry presents in the otherwise partisan climate in Washington, D.C.
“My hope is that after the election people say, look, let’s start making some priorities and find some things that we can agree on, and maybe one of them is the production tax credit,” said Rove. “It is a market mechanism, you don’t get paid unless you produce the power, and we’re not picking winners and losers, we’re simply saying for some period of time we will provide this incentive.”
Noting that legislation passed Congress in a similar partisan, divided environment in 2005, Rove mused that surprising things can happen. “You don’t need moderates to get this done. You need conservative Republicans who say this means jobs to my district and a resource we’ve got plenty of. And you need Democrats to say this is a way to expand the range of options that we have as a country for energy.”
And Gibbs noted the importance of predictability in order for business to operate successfully and create jobs. “We cannot have this yo-yo tax policy, where one day it’s there, the next day it might not be,” he said.
The PTC for wind energy is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, and already the industry supply chain is feeling the effects. A recent study found that extending the PTC will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration will cause the loss of 37,000 jobs.
New AWEA Board Chair Tom Carnahan, president of Wind Rose Partners, LLC, made clear where the industry and policy need to go in the coming months so that wind power can provide jobs for America for years to come.
Making reference to the strong support that PTC extension efforts enjoy from conservative Republicans like Rep. Steve King of Iowa as well as business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers and the Edison Electric Institute, Carnahan commented, “In a hyper-partisan Washington political environment, wind power is the most widely supported energy source there is.”
Carnahan also guided a dynamic discussion in his role moderating a panel of leading wind industry leaders, which included Mark Albenze, CEO of Siemens Energy Wind Power Americas; Jan Blittersdorf, president and CEO of NRG Systems, Inc.; David Flitterman chairman, Gamesa Technology Corporation; James King, senior vice president and head of structured finance for the Americas at BayernLB; and Steve Lockard, president and CEO of TPI Composites, Inc. Members of the panel discussed their businesses going forward, as well as the roles of technological innovation and American manufacturing in reducing the cost of wind power.
“This is an industry that is not just accustomed to innovation – it thrives on it,” said Carnahan.
The panel also called for members of the industry to continue outreach efforts to educate members of Congress about the importance of the PTC to American manufacturing jobs.
“You look at poll after poll and Americans want wind energy,” said Blittersdorf.