It gets lost in all the chatter about the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling, but there is another crisis just five day away. The wind energy tax credit expires at midnight next Monday unless Congress acts and Congress is on vacation.
There may be uncertainty about how long Congress can procrastinate on the fiscal cliff. Some experts think effects would not be felt for a few weeks. The outlook for the wind energy is not as speculative. A study by the consulting firm Navigant shows that the effects on the wind industry will be immediate and devastating. In fact, thousands of employees in the wind energy have already been laid off in anticipation that Congress will do-nothing.
The study concluded that if the Production Tax Credit (PTC) is not extended by next Monday the wind energy would shrink significantly in 2013. They predict that there will be only 2 GW (gigawatts) of new wind installations in 2013 down from 8 GW this year.
If the PTC expires total investment in America’s wind industry will drop from $15.6 billion in 2012 to a paltry $5.5 billion in 2013. That is a drop of 66%.
The news for workers is worse. If Congress fails to act total employment in the wind industry in the U.S. will fall from 78,000 jobs now to just 41,000 jobs. Thousands of those jobs are here in Colorado. That means 37,000 families will lose their income as a New Years gift from Congress.
So, this is a real tragedy courtesy of Congress.
The Navigant study brought out the ghost of Christmas future. They made predictions on what “could” be if Congress acted responsibly. They reported that there would be annual installation of between 8-10 GW each year through 2016. Employment in the wind industry would grow to 98,000 by 2016; and investment would grow to $16.8 billion by 2016.
This is bad news for the families that impacted. It is bad news for the companies involved in wind energy. It is also bad news for state and local economies and the U.S. economy. It is very bad news for our climate. All those giggawatts of wind energy that will not be produced will be replaced with electricity generated by fossil fuels including coal dumping enormous amounts of heat trapping carbon into the atmosphere.
The study found that if the credit is not extended 320 tons of CO2 would be added to the atmosphere along with 1,520 tons of SO2, and 230 tons of NOx.
On would think that last summers wildfires, the current drought, or Hurricane Sandy would get the attention of Congress. One would also think that the Christmas tornados in the South might give them pause. No such luck. Congress is working under the influence—the influence of the carbon lobby and their millions in campaign contributions.
The families of workers in the wind energy industry tried to get the attention of Congress by making individual appeals on YouTube. They were ignored. Meanwhile the science deniers and the revisionists funded by the gas and coal industries have been peppering Congress with propaganda about the renewal energy industry in general, and wind in particular.
So, anything is possible, but in Washington good things are not probable. Five days to go and Congress is at home.
If you like this article share it, Tweet it, or follow me on Facebook.