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Clean Power Starbucks and 17 others urge support for wind tax credit

Published on September 19th, 2012 | by Tina Casey


Romney Gets a Wind Power Tax Credit Smackdown from Starbucks, Yahoo!, & Others

September 19th, 2012 by  

The last thing presidential candidate Mitt Romney needs this week is a bit of piling on by some of American’s top corporate icons, but that’s exactly what went down on Tuesday in the form of a wind power advocacy letter to Congress signed by Starbucks, Yahoo!, Ben & Jerry’s, Johnson & Johnson, the Portland Trailblazers, and 14 others. The letter urges Congressional support for extension of the wind power tax credit.

Et tu, Portland Trailblazers? That’s right, even pro basketball is represented in the mix of major U.S. companies arrayed against Romney, whose campaign has confirmed that he is against the popular wind power tax credit. Talk about running against the wind!

Starbucks and 17 others urge support for wind tax credit

A Wind Power Tax Credit Message for You, Romney

Most of the companies that signed onto the letter belong to BICEP (Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy), a project of the sustainable business advocacy organization Ceres.

Aside from the aforementioned signatories, the others run the gamut from some of America’s oldest and best known brands, like Levi Strauss & Co., to up-and-comers like Clif Bar.

That includes Akamai Technologies; Annie’s, Inc.; Aspen Skiing Company; Jones Lang LaSalle; New Belgium Brewing; The North Face; Pitney Bowes; Seventh Generation; Sprint; Stonyfield Farm; Symantec; and Timberland.

The gist of the letter is that the Production Tax Credit signed into law by George H.W. Bush has begun to deliver on its promise of building a competitive market for renewable energy, as evidenced by a 90 percent drop in the cost of wind power since 1980.

Put that against the backdrop of global fossil fuel price trends (which are up), along with grid stability and supply issues, and it’s clear that U.S. companies have a strong bottom-line interest in wind power, over and above the broader public health and employment benefits to the consumers who populate the domestic marketplace.

The picture is best summed up by New Belgium Brewing, which states that it “has made investing in renewable power a strategic priority because it’s the right thing to do for the environment, for our business, and for clean energy employment.”

Coffee, Beer, and Basketball for Wind Power

Domestic energy security is one thing, but U.S. companies also need access to more wind power as a marketing tool that will enable them to compete in the global economy.

A pair of studies commissioned by the Danish wind turbine company Vestas indicates that, globally, more companies are voluntarily investing in wind power  and a majority of consumers prefer products that are manufactured using wind power.

The mere threat of allowing the U.S. wind tax credit to expire has already caused the domestic wind industry to slump this year, after setting an impressive growth record in previous years. If Congress does allow the tax credit to expire, that would not only blow up one of the few bright spots in U.S. industry since the 2008 financial crisis, it would also kneecap any number of other U.S. companies that need every edge to compete in the global marketplace.

As Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, puts it, “the Production Tax Credit helps every business that purchases renewable power: It’s just that simple.”

Simple, that is, if you have the best interests of the U.S. business community at heart.

And yes, President Obama gets the wind power thing, in case you’re wondering.

Image: Starbucks. Some rights reserved by CarbonNYC.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

  • Anne

    Add to this the story of Walmart and IKEA installing rooftop solar, Ford installing wind turbines and it is clear that businesses ‘get it’.

    The world is changing and the fossils will become …. well …. fossils.

  • Prove that WIND works…you cannot because WIND does not work.
    Thought for the day.

    WIND sells to RPS mandated buyers in Massachusetts.

    9.25 cents per kilowatt hour. WIND signs an agreement stating to produce/sell an “X” amount of energy. If WINDs turbines cannot produce (and they work at about 8% efficiency in Western Maine), they make up the difference by purchasing strips from ISO-NE at around 4.5 cents per KwH. That’s where the true scam comes in. Reselling non-green energy under the guise of wind produced.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” and they work at about 8% efficiency in Western Maine ”

      Proof please.

      • Billy Porter

        perhaps he grabbed it from here: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/14/an-argument-over-wind/?smid=pl-share

        “The problem for Texas is that wind generation does not coincide with peak demand, which is on hot days that are mostly windless. State power planners estimate that for every 100 megawatts of wind machines installed in the state, only about 8 megawatts will be available on peak days”

        • Bob_Wallace

          You think “Alice” is some guy working for the Koch boys? Could be…. ;o)

          Yes, wind is not 24/365. It will take a mix of renewables and storage to create our future grid. Wind is knocking down prices at night in Texas, it’s more than paying for itself.

          Now it’s time for Texas to install a lot of solar. You might have noticed that the Sun has a tendency to shine on peak days.

        • Anne

          That’s why it is so important to not invest in wind alone, but also in solar, which obviously peaks on hot days.

          The plan is (and always has been) to have a mix of sources and not put all eggs in one basket.

    • Ah. WIND power is what doesn’t create a West-Texas WIND-energy boom. WIND is what doesn’t work when 100% of electricity on the Danish island of Samsø comes from WINDmills. Moreover, if it isn’t the WIND that’s powering the WINDmill covered island, then the Danes must be some kind of magicians? Of course, you don’t believe in that kind of magic; that would be ridiculous. So do you think that the successful Texas entrepreneurs, and the 22 rural village cooperatives, are all incapable of generating ANY affordable electricity with the incorporeal WIND? Which would mean that they are all lying, as well as every journalist who’s ever reported on them…

      I hope you can see that real life backs your argument that “wind doesn’t work” into a corner.

      Beware of absolutes. Everything is context. What you meant, I’m sure, to say is that wind power alone isn’t enough to energize our nation in its entirety. And in this you’re entirely right; in fact, we’re all entirely right about that. Very few rational people would say that wind can completely replace, say, our mainstay coal.

      What we do think is that wind power is a mostly-untapped source of energy that does not increase the amount of poison we dump in the atmosphere, and that we should therefore be supporting its development as a way to stop making worse the problem of global warming. Whatever scam you say happens out East, I can promise you this: deregulation and clean energy standards helped Texas wind energy projects get their feet off the ground; and in Denmark, community-run cooperatives managed to completely transform the island of Samsø.

      But I don’t care what political system you think works for all mankind; I just care what works for our grid, our nation, our children. And unless you want to believe that Danes and Texans are habitual, skilled, and elaborate liars, we have before us two great examples of how wind should be part of our future. Just like German and Chinese solar, just like Icelandic geothermal, just like Norwegian and good-old-American hydropower, Danish and Texan projects have made wind energy work.

      Shouldn’t we maybe try learning from their experience?

      • nice.

        and for the record, Germany actually gets a lot of power form wind too — more than from solar, but i imagine that will change at some point.

    • Anne

      The fact that you talk about ‘efficiency’ betrays you know little about the subject. Nobody talks about efficiency when it comes to wind power. Probably you mean ‘capacity factor’.

      The 8% capacity factor (‘efficiency’) in Maine is bollocks, I dare to say that without any data. But let’s fact check your statement anyway. From the wikipedia page about wind power in Maine: “In 2011 wind power facilities in Maine generated 713 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy”. Installed capacity in 2011 was about 500 MW, so that comes to 1400 full load hours, which translates to a capacity factor of 16%.

      My guess is that your 8% is the figure from a single month, with low winds or perhaps a single, underperforming wind farm.

      Your claim of fraud is hilarious. If it were that obvious, don’t you think more people would complain about it?

      But what you conveniently leave out is that the opposite happens too. In periods of high winds, part of that green energy is sold as standard electricity at the standard rate.

      It is a matter of bookkeeping. At the end of the year the amount of green energy produced must exactly match the amount sold. Each kWh of green energy reduces fossil generation by 1 kWh. Whether the time at which it was generated coincides exactly with the time that a green energy customer consumed it is irrelevant. The reduction in fossil energy generation is what counts and wind power does that very effectively.

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