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New Report Highlights Growth of Wind Energy in California

Capps uses the report to call for extending the renewable electricity production tax credit

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, a senior member of the Committee on Energy & Commerce, highlighted on Tuesday a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy, the 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report, detailing the growth in wind energy production and manufacturing in California.

According to the report, in 2011 “California added more new wind power capacity than any other state.” California added 921 megawatts of wind power capacity to the U.S. grid, representing nearly 14 percent of wind power capacity added nationally in 2011. Overall, California ranks third in cumulative megawatts of wind power capacity with 3,917.

Additional analysis from the American Wind Energy Association demonstrates that the United States will surpass 50 gigawatts of installed wind power capacity this week, which represents enough power for more than 13 million American households a year. In 1999, wind was predicted to deliver only one quarter of that amount by 2012.

“This report offers more evidence that California is helping to lead the nation in expanding wind energy production, and that the U.S. can lead the world in transitioning to cleaner, safer sources of energy and away from fossil fuels,” Capps said. “That would be good for our workers, public health and national security.”

Capps also noted that the report highlights the importance of extending the renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) to ensure growth in wind energy production and manufacturing. The PTC, which provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents for each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced by a renewable energy source, has been a key factor in wind power’s expansion over the last decade. Unfortunately, the PTC is set to expire on Dec. 31 without congressional action.

“The owners and employees of Central Coast companies, like Clipper Windpower and Infinity Wind Power, have told me repeatedly that extending the PTC will help them grow and hire,” Capps said. “We shouldn’t pull the rug out from underneath these cutting-edge companies by letting this key federal incentive lapse, as Mitt Romney and some in Congress are actually suggesting. This would devastate the wind energy industry and would eliminate thousands of jobs across the country, including some here in our area. It’s time to give these innovative companies certainty by taking up a multiyear extension of the PTC as soon as Congress returns to work next month.”

“This report highlights the positive impact this industry has on our economy,” said Matt Riley, chief executive officer of Santa Barbara-based Infinity Wind Power. “With sound and consistent policy from Washington, the wind industry will continue to add important manufacturing jobs across broad geographic regions of the U.S. In the short term, rapid action to extend the expiring production tax credit is essential to ensuring this industry keeps contributing substantially to our country’s economic recovery. The PTC enjoys strong support from both political parties and can be a shining example of how Congress can work together to help Americans get back to work.”

In May, Capps spoke about the importance of the PTC with Infinity Wind Power at a news conference in Santa Barbara. She has co-sponsored bipartisan legislation, the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act of 2011 (H.R. 3307), to extend the PTC through 2016. She also wrote to the speaker in May urging him to bring this legislation to a vote.

Earlier this month, the Senate Finance Committee included an extension of the PTC when reporting a bipartisan tax bill just before Congress adjourned, but the House has yet to act.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

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