Tom Joseph, Public News Service-PA
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Alternative energy could take a step forward in Pennsylvania after the U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted late last week to renew a tax credit for wind power.
Several Republicans joined Democrats in support of extending the credit for one more year at a cost of $3.3 billion.
Larry Thomas, general manager of Energy Hardware, which manufactures supplies for GE and others in the wind industry, says renewable energies should be supported as is the fossil-fuel industry.
"There's permanent tax credits that have always been in place for coal and oil. Can we grab some of that that's already permanent? Can that be used over here on the renewable side?"
According to the American Wind Energy Association, letting the permanent tax credit expire would eliminate approximately 37,000 jobs nationwide. Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group's Clean Energy Program, says Congress needs to realize the impact this uncertainty is having on the market.
"Causing this kind of turmoil and uncertainty in a market is completely unnecessary. There've been really no new orders for wind, and that is going to have a significant impact on jobs."
Perhaps the bipartisanship surfacing around this issue in Washington shouldn't be a surprise. According to the American Wind Energy Association, more than 81 percent of the installed wind capacity in the United States is in congressional districts represented by Republicans.
House approval of the wind-power tax credits is not certain; their action will have to wait until Congress returns to Washington in September.
A 2011 report from the American Wind Energy Association estimates that wind power in Pennsylvania has created 3,000 to 4,000 jobs, and estimates those projects will help the state avoid more than 1.34 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.