The following post is from Natasha Patel, Communications Intern for the BlueGreen Alliance.
Earlier this week, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) announced that wind power in the US reached an impressive milestone of 50 gigawatts (GW) of electric generating capacity. The announcement was made at a National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas just months before Congress votes to extend a critical tax incentive for wind energy, the Production Tax Credit (PTC).
Equivalent to powering nearly 13 million American homes, the 50 GW milestone represents the generating power of 44 coal fired plants, or 11 nuclear plants and is similar to removing 14 million cars off the road.
Besides being environmentally conscious by removing carbon dioxide pollution and conserving 30 billion tons of water per year — since wind generation uses virtually no water — the 50 GW threshold plays an important economic part by creating thousands of wind- based jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors.
There are now over 500 U.S. factories that provide wind power components and jobs. To stress the importance of the PTC and its benefits to the job industry, President Barack Obama addressed workers from Vestas Wind Systems in Pueblo, Colorado earlier today. The company employees over 1,700 workers, and has noted that it plans to lay off a majority of these workers if the PTC is not extended.
With the help of this essential tax credit there are now over 37,000 wind-based jobs across the country, and if Congress acts to extend the PTC for a period of just four years, over 100,000 additional wind-based jobs will be created.
Uncertainty over the fate of the PTC has negative consequences for real workers with real wind jobs. Gerald, a wind industry worker in Missouri, is one of those people. Read more about Gerald’s story here and take action to urge Congress to renew the PTC so the U.S. can surpass its 50 GW milestone.