Colorado’s U.S. senators fight for passage of critical tax credit for renewable energy
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado-based companies making parts for wind turbines say they’re starting to feel a negative trickle-down effect from congressional inaction on wind production tax credits.
The tax credits have been used in the U.S. and other countries to spur the growth of renewable energy production, but partisan posturing and the influence of the fossil fuel lobby have hindered political action.
Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet Tuesday heard from local business leaders about the economic impact and potential layoffs due to recent cuts at Vestas.
Bennet discussed with local CEOs the need to extend the wind production tax credit during a tour of the Walker Component Group’s manufacturing facility, which supplies cables for wind turbines used by Vestas Wind Systems.
“We are seeing firsthand how Congress’ failure to act on an extension of the wind PTC is killing jobs right here in Colorado,” Bennet said. “An extension will support this vital industry at a crucial point in its development and save thousands of jobs in Colorado and tens of thousands across the rest of the country. Congress must get its act together and extend the PTC immediately when it resumes session.”
Vestas Wind Systems operates four plants in Colorado. Last week, the company announced layoffs at its Pueblo plant in the face of the expiration of the PTC at the end of the year. And today, Vestas has announced a round of layoffs at its facility in Brighton.
Walker Component Group opened this manufacturing facility specifically to supply cables to Vestas. It has already made cuts and faces more if Vestas decreases production. It is just one example of the hundreds of U.S.-based businesses that form the wind industry supply chain and will be adversely affected if Congress does not act to renew the PTC.
Senator Mark Udall also was disturbed by the layoffs, calling it another painful reminder of the real-life consequences of congressional inaction on the wind Production Tax Credit.
“This latest round of layoffs — the second this month hitting Colorado families — should be a wake-up call to Congress and those who have attempted to politicize the PTC,” Udall said in a prepared statement. “I will continue to lead the push in the U.S. Senate to extend the PTC and remind my colleagues of what is at stake. We need to redouble our efforts and extend the PTC ASAP. Congress’s inaction has real-life consequences for families in Colorado and across our nation. Our inaction is hurting Colorado families and ceding our leadership on wind energy to China.”
Udall and Bennet have both been advocates for renewal of the wind production tax credit.
Earlier this month, Udall called for and then praised a bipartisan bill that included the wind Production Tax Credit through the Senate Finance Committee. Udall also recently joined with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) to reauthorize the wind Production Tax Credit as an amendment to the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act.
Bennet led eight of the nine members of the Colorado Congressional delegation in a bipartisan letter calling for extension of the tax credit and has introduced two bipartisan amendments with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), cosponsored by Senator Mark Udall, to extend the PTC.
He has also partnered with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Udall to introduce the American Energy and Job Promotion Act, a bipartisan bill to extend the PTC for wind and several other renewable energy technologies. Earlier this month, he successfully led a bipartisan group of senators urging the Senate Finance Committee to include an extension of the PTC in a tax extenders bill the committee was considering.