AWEA Defends PTC before House Oversight Subcommittee.

AWEA testified on Wednesday morning in defense of the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements.  Rob Gramlich, AWEA’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, described how the PTC works and highlighted the numerous economic and national security benefits it has leveraged.

Republican Subcommittee Members spent a considerable amount of time focusing on the new Internal Revenue Service rules on the “start construction” criteria, discussing concerns about whether the rules are open-ended, and questioning the need for the PTC and when it should end.  Democratic Subcommittee Members focused on the economic and energy security benefits the PTC has spurred, and the high cost of subsidies for other energy sources compared to renewables.

The hearing raised a number of common criticisms of wind energy and the PTC, but the generally cordial tone of the questioning allowed Rob to spend an adequate amount of time responding to most of those criticisms. He took the opportunity to explain why existing state renewable electricity standards are not sufficient by themselves to spur additional wind energy development.  He was also able to downplay concerns about whether wind projects impede military operations, and to emphasize how reliable wind energy is generally.  Other questions allowed him to talk about the jobs and private investment the wind industry provides.

In his testimony, Dan Reicher, Executive Director of theSteyer-TaylorCenterfor Energy Policy & Finance at Stanford, highlighted the need to allow investment in wind energy through Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).  He advocated a multi-year phasedown of the PTC, and a transition to these other types of financing mechanisms.