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Wind energy — and its benefits — are expanding rapidly, thanks to continuing cost declines. Wind energy’s costs have fallen 43 percent in the past four years, driven by technological advances and the creation of a domestic manufacturing supply chain that produced more than 70 percent of wind turbine value in America as of 2013. Because of those cost declines, U.S. wind energy use has more than tripled over the last five years, accounting for more than 35 percent of all new electricity-generating capacity over that time period.
The renewable production tax credit is essential to this success, but changing course will reverse those gains by shutting down wind’s domestic supply chain. About 80,000 American jobs and 550 wind energy manufacturing facilities spread across 44 states are at stake. In fact, the tax relief provided by the production tax credit is so effective at stimulating private investment ($25 billion in 2012) and job creation that the tax credit more than pays for itself by generating additional tax revenue.
The renewable production tax credit enjoys strong bipartisan support, with around 70 percent support in recent polls by USA Today and Gallup. Fossil and nuclear energy have each received 10 times more federal funding per year than renewable energy, over 90-year and 50-year periods, respectively, versus 15 years for renewables, as documented by DBL Investors and confirmed by a similar tally from the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Wind energy is working as intended, displacing more expensive and polluting sources of energy.
Michael Goggin is the senior electric industry analyst at the American Wind Energy Association.