Feb. 9, 2012, Washington, DC - Executives from the hydropower, geothermal and biomass power
industries called on Congressional leaders to extend the production tax
credit through 2016 for hydropower, geothermal and biomass. The three
industries operate in parts of the country not often associated with
renewable energy – particularly the Southeast and Mountain West – and
company and trade association leaders expressed concern for a looming
crisis that has put thousands of jobs in these states at risk. The call
comes as opponents of renewable energy tax policy place the future of
these industries in jeopardy.
The group called for the immediate passage of H.R. 3307: American
Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act of 2011, which
covers all renewable technologies,
and is sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert [R-WA8] and Rep. Earl Blumenauer
[D-OR3] with over 60 bipartisan cosponsors, including 16 Republicans.
Participants in today's press conference included Linda Church
Ciocci, Executive Director, National Hydropower Association; Mark
Stover, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Hydro Green Energy; Karl
Gawell, Executive Director, Geothermal Energy Association; Jonathan M.
Weisgall, Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs,
MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company; and Robert Cleaves, President and
CEO, Biomass Power Association.
"The geothermal industry has added over $1 billion in new power
projects to the grid since the Congress extended the PTC to geothermal
energy in 2005, bringing several thousand drilling, construction and
operating jobs to often rural areas with high unemployment. But with a
project lead time of 4 years or more, the geothermal industry has
already reached its so-called tax credit cliff, even if the legal
deadline is 2013. This is not just undermining projects in 16 states
with new geothermal power projects, it is also costing vendors lost
orders in over 46 states that supply geothermal projects. It is more
critical than ever for Congress to adopt a longer time frame for
geothermal incentives. We urge action now to extend the tax deadline
from 2013 to at least 2016," said Karl Gawell, Executive Director,
Geothermal Energy Association.
"With long lead times and high up-front capital costs, there is a
great need to de-risk the geothermal energy industry, and an extension
of the PTC will help do just that," said Jonathan M. Weisgall, Vice
President, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, MidAmerican Energy
"The biomass industry employs thousands of Americans, many of whom
live and work in rural areas that were hardest hit by our nation's
recent recession. To continue to employ these hard-working Americans,
and to grow our industry by making it a stable, long-term opportunity
for investments, we need the production tax credit to be extended beyond
2013," said Robert Cleaves, President and CEO, Biomass Power
"The hydropower industry supports jobs and low-cost clean energy
around the country, from the Southeast to the Northwest. Our industry
has huge potential to contribute even more to America's economy and
clean energy future, adding as much as 60,000 MW of new capacity by
2025. This is why it is so urgent that Congress keep in place the
policies that support renewable energy growth," said Linda Church
Ciocci, Executive Director, National Hydropower Association.
"Hydro Green Energy's projects currently under development will
provide enough clean, renewable hydropower to keep the lights on in over
137,000 homes each year. The extension of the production tax credit is
vital to helping us continue to grow, and uncertainty about the fate of
this policy is already affecting companies like ours," said Mark Stover,
Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Hydro Green Energy. "At Hydro
Green Energy, we want to create new American jobs, support our local
communities and provide reliable, clean power to America's energy
consumers; extending the PTC will help us to do that."
The call to action was accompanied by a letter to Congressional leaders.
The letter states:
"For most renewable electricity technologies in the United States ,
the tax incentives put in place over the last decade provided the first
significant federal support in decades. By any measure, those policies
have been tremendously successful in spurring construction of new
projects and the deployment of new technologies, expanding the supply of
affordable, clean electricity to the grid, supporting significant local
economic opportunities, and creating tens of thousands of U.S. jobs in
regions of the country not usually associated with renewable energy.
As the President rightly pointed out in his State of the Union
address, clean energy tax incentives create jobs and a market for
innovation. The production tax credit for hydropower, geothermal and
biomass is no exception. Its looming expiration in 2013 is already
leading to a decline in new projects and construction. Failing to
extend these tax incentives will effectively bring these projects to a
grinding halt and undermine the progress our industries have made in
Utility-scale hydropower, geothermal and biomass projects starting
today would find it nearly impossible to be completed by the end of
2013. Recent examination of new geothermal projects finds lead times of
four to eight years. Hydropower has a similar multi-year licensing
schedule, followed by the construction timeline. For biomass, a
recently completed 100 MW facility in Texas took more than five years
before even breaking ground.
The tax incentives in place since the mid-2000s have helped usher
in a renaissance in our industries. Like the federal tax incentives,
the Department of Energy's investment in new technology
represents the first significant federal support for new geothermal and
hydropower technology in decades. We believe the investment will pay
off, but sustaining the momentum to build new projects is critical.
As Congress considers extending certain key incentives this year,
it will have a remarkable opportunity to protect recent growth in the
geothermal, hydropower and biomass sectors as well as build upon the
successes of those policies. That is why it is critical that Congress,
at a minimum, extend the renewable energy production tax credits through
2016 for the full range of renewable energy technologies, including
hydropower, geothermal, and biomass – all of which have much longer
deployment lead times compared to other renewable energy technologies.
The benefits of our technologies are clear. All can provide high
quality electric power with baseload reliability as well as flexible
output to complement other technologies. All have large untapped
resource bases across the rural economies of the nation, and their
continued growth could provide tens of thousands of affordable, clean
megawatts to America's electric grid while creating domestic jobs and
driving local economic activity.
Currently, the investment tax credit for solar is the only renewable electricity tax incentive
effective through 2016. Congress extended this credit in explicit
recognition of the importance of stable and predictable tax policies.
The duration of this effective program should be a model for enhancing
the effectiveness of the federal tax incentives for the rest of the
renewable electricity technologies.
The policies signed into law over the last decade sought to expand
federal support and incentives to a wide range of technologies, and to
provide longer-term incentives that support industry growth and new
technology deployment. And they have been successful in creating
momentum for new construction, new capacity and new jobs in America's
renewable energy industry. Those policies and the investments and jobs
that they help create need to be kept in place so they can continue to
work for America's economy."
About National Hydropower Association:
The National Hydropower Association (NHA) is a nonprofit national
association dedicated to promoting the growth of clean, affordable U.S.
hydropower. It seeks to secure hydropower's place as a climate-friendly,
renewable and reliable energy source that serves national
environmental, energy, and economic policy objectives. NHA unites the
diverse North American hydropower community, representing more than 180
companies in the North American hydropower industry, from Fortune 500
corporations to family-owned small businesses. Association members
include both public and investor-owned utilities, independent power
producers, developers, manufacturers, environmental and engineering
consultants, attorneys, and public policy, outreach, and education
professionals. Learn more about hydropower and NHA at www.hydro.org;
Follow us on Twitter @NatlHydroAssoc and find us on Facebook.
About Biomass Power Association:
Biomass power is a $1 billion industry with 80 facilities in 20
states and provides over 14,000 jobs nationwide. Power plants are
predominately located in rural communities, creating thousands of jobs
and producing millions in revenue for small towns. Biomass power is a
clean and abundant source of electricity that will allow states to
pursue even more aggressive goals for increasing their use of renewable
energy in the future.
About the Geothermal Energy Association:
The Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) is a trade association
composed of U.S. companies who support the expanded use of geothermal
energy and are developing geothermal resources worldwide for electrical
power generation and direct-heat uses. GEA advocates for public
policies that will promote the development and utilization of geothermal
resources, provides a forum for the industry to discuss issues and
problems, encourages research and development to improve geothermal
technologies, presents industry views to governmental organizations,
provides assistance for the export of geothermal goods and services,
compiles statistical data about the geothermal industry, and conducts
education and outreach projects. For more information, please visit http://www.geo-energy.org/. Check out GEA's YouTube Channel. Follow GEA on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook.