Congress needs to renew PTC
December 10, 2014
Recently an opinion piece urging congress to not renew the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) by long-time Washington insider and oil lobbyist/front man Tom Pyle found its way into the online pages of the Nevada Appeal and Lahontan Valley News. Mr. Pyle is not from, nor does he know, Nevada. If he were, he would know that Nevada not only has no coal or existing natural gas resources, but very small amounts of oil. What we do have is large amounts of geothermal, sunshine and wind.
That is why Democratic U.S. Senator Harry Reid and Republican Governor Brian Sandoval stood together earlier this year announcing that more than $5.5 billion has been invested in Nevada for renewable energy projects, with hundreds of millions that directly benefited from the Production Tax Credit. Additionally, the state has received a 10 to 1 ratio on their investment in renewable energy – for every dollar invested, Nevada has seen $10 in tax revenue.
The Production Tax Credit has been in existence for more than 20 years with bipartisan support and has helped create hundreds of thousands of new jobs throughout the United States. The American wind industry alone includes over 500 factories and supports more than 73,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs. In Nevada, the wind industry has directly invested approximately $280 million into the economy. The renewable energy PTC helps ensure that the jobs, private investment, and tax revenue stay right here in the U.S. It levels the playing field, allowing renewable energy to compete with conventional fuels that have been subsidized for decades with permanent tax credits, which are institutional and do not need to be voted on periodically like the PTC. This means that the fossil fuel industry doesn't need Congress to consistently pass their subsidies – it's just given to them automatically. In fact, according to a 2012 Congressional Budget Office report, the fossil fuel industry has reaped annual subsidies ranging from $4 billion to $15 billion a year for the past 30 years. That doesn't include health costs directly attributable to the fossil fuel industry. By comparison, by American Energy Alliance's own projections, the Production Tax Credit only accounts for around $1.6 billion per year for clean energy projects.
The fossil fuel industry may want the nation and Nevada to keep subsidizing big oil at the expense of the future, continuing our dependency on fossil fuels, but Nevada's future does not depend upon relying on the polluting fuels of the past. Our future is in developing the new and growing clean energy economy. In fact, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) and Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) all had their 2014 national conferences in our state because we have become a known leader in the new clean energy economy. Supporting renewable energy is supporting Nevada; you can see that by the bipartisan leadership we have had in the state already.
The reality is that Nevadans overwhelmingly support the expansion of renewable energy and the resulting reductions in pollution. In fact, the American Energy Alliance's own research and polling show that a majority of Americans support the renewable energy PTC. Knowing this, why would he and his group be so desperate to see it die? Whatever the reason, it's not in the best interest of developing Nevada's own resources and expanding our state's economy. Through the renewal of the Production Tax Credit, Nevada can continue to grow our economy and become one of the world's largest renewable energy centers.
Lydia Ball, Executive Director of Clean Energy Project a Nevada non-profit non partisan organization dedicated to powering the clean energy economy.