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Wind energy Production Tax Credit: A step toward an ‘all of the above’ energy plan

As lawmakers, we care about the impact of the policies we adopt. We want them to result in real-world, positive benefits. That is why I support an “all of the above” approach to energy policy. Wind energy is a critical component of that approach. That is why I sponsored the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which has had a successful result.

Just take a look at these numbers: Today, over 100,000 Americans work in wind energy, across all 50 states. A quarter have jobs at more than 500 U.S. factories, building parts for turbines here in the USA. Wind turbine technician has become the country’s fastest growing job according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and veterans have found work in wind power at a rate 50 percent higher than the average industry.

{mosads}Wind has attracted over $140 billion of private investment into our economy over the past decade. Much of this has gone right where it’s needed most, in counties hurting for jobs and financial resources. For many of the nation’s farmers and ranchers, wind energy has become their new drought-proof cash crop, paying them $245 million a year for leases, a figure that grows each year. This is particularly important in the rural parts of my district in upstate New York.

We must become energy independent, which is why I support an “all of the above” energy approach. This tax credit was designed to enhance the production of wind energy, and it did just that. Wind power is now America’s largest source of renewable energy capacity, enough to power 24 million homes. The tax credit is more than paying for itself in local, state, and federal taxes, plus savings on electric bills.

In December of 2015, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle agreed to phase down the PTC through 2019. We worked to create a fair and predictable investment climate and wanted to see more of the benefits as a result. Indeed a pro-growth business environment has ensued, bringing more jobs and economic development through 2020 and beyond.

Over the next four years, from 2017 through 2020, our bipartisan deal can double the jobs supported by wind power and create thousands more U.S. factory jobs. These workers will grow America’s fleet of wind turbines by nearly 50 percent in that period. And this increase will bring another $85 billion of private investment into the U.S. economy by 2020, counting manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, lease payments and taxes paid.

Because 99 percent of wind farms are built in rural areas, they’ll keep delivering jobs and economic benefits to communities that need them most, like back home in Steuben and Chautauqua counties.

New wind farms built over the next four years will pay an additional $8 billion over that period in sales, income, and property taxes. This revenue source will help strengthen our local communities. The revenue will help pay teacher salaries, fix local roads and buy new ambulances and even keep local citizens’ taxes low. This is a great return on the taxpayers’ investment.

We’ve seen that wind energy works as part of a larger comprehensive energy strategy for America and the PTC helped make that possible. By the time the tax credit phases out, we will have created over 200,000 American jobs, many in Rust Belt towns that truly need them. We will have brought billions of dollars into the U.S. economy, providing a substantial boost to rural America.

However, this tax credit is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to an “all of the above” energy approach. There is clearly more work to be done to make sure all energy sources are treated fairly in the U.S. tax code. We need to increase our energy independence and save money for the country’s families and businesses. Wind plays a large part in this, as the cost of wind energy has dropped dramatically. If I could have seen into the future when we agreed to the PTC phase-down in 2015, I couldn’t have painted a better picture.

Rep. Reed represents New York’s 23rd District and is a member of the Ways and Means Committee.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.


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