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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise to speak on the floor of the Senate again this morning to urge my colleagues to vote to extend the production tax credit for wind energy. It is also known as the production tax credit. I know the Presiding Officer's home State of West Virginia has a robust wind energy sector as well. I look forward to coming to the floor and talking about the Presiding Officer's State in the future.
The reason I am talking about the production tax credit is it is set to expire at the end of this year, and it will cost citizens in my State and the rest of the Nation their jobs. We cannot let this happen. Tens of thousands of vital jobs are dependent on the wind industry all across our great country.
As I have mentioned, I come to the Senate floor on a daily basis and I highlight a State and talk about what the production tax credit has done to encourage economic growth in that State. Today, I wish to talk about the great State of Illinois, the land of Lincoln, where the wind industry is thriving. Illinois is an impressive example of how wind resources can be harnessed and put to good use creating jobs and supporting local communities.
Overall, Illinois has the fourth largest installed wind capacity in the United States, with over 600,000 homes powered by the wind. If fully utilized, the wind energy resource in Illinois could provide 525 percent of the State's current electricity needs. That is truly a staggering amount of electricity for the fifth largest State in the Nation.
In 2011, Illinois was second only to California in the number of new wind energy projects completed, and they installed more wind turbines there than any other State in the country. Clearly, Illinois recognizes the economic potential wind energy holds for the future, as many other States have.
Just last week in Illinois, Invenergy announced it completed construction of the Bishop Hill wind energy facility in Henry County. That is up in the northwestern part of Illinois, near Davenport, IA. The project covers 22,000 acres of farmland and includes over 100 wind turbines and can power 60,000 homes. The Bishop Hill project is clearly a huge investment in Illinois and our Nation's clean energy future. But the economic power of wind energy has been equally impressive. The wind energy there supports 7,000 jobs, it contributes close to $19 million every year in property taxes to local communities, and Illinois led our Nation in 2011 with over 400 new wind turbines installed.
Just this month, Illinois State University released a report that estimates that the 23 largest wind farms in Illinois will contribute roughly $5.8 billion to the local economies over the lifetime of these projects. The construction of these wind farms generated over 19,000 jobs that cut paychecks totaling over $1 billion for workers. These are good-paying, high-skill jobs that we are proud to have in our country and that American workers are proud to have and it is one part of the overall wind energy story.
For example, the Odell Grade School, in Odell, IL, has a much needed project underway that will expand the school and make it more energy efficient. While this project is expensive, it will be paid for, in part, by payments from local wind farms. Wind energy is supporting a better education for Odell's youth without increasing taxes to the local residents.
This is not unique to Illinois. It is happening all across our country. I have no doubt the people of Odell would agree with me that extending the PTC is a commonsense proposal. However, without Congress extending the production tax credit, our country and the wind industry literally face impending disaster. In fact, many wind energy manufacturers and producers have already been preparing for the end of the PTC by backing off their investments in many of these communities such as Odell and by announcing future layoffs of thousands of workers. It is just flatout unacceptable that we in the Congress would let this happen.
I think everyone understands where I am heading. This is a serious issue that needs attention now--not next month, not in the fall, not in the lameduck session but now. The wind industry will not wait for us to extend the PTC at some date in the future. They have already begun to scale back their operations and move overseas. Further inaction is unacceptable. China is stepping into the breach and literally taking our jobs overseas. Other countries are prepared to do the same. For us in Congress to miss this opportunity to not only preserve jobs but put in place policy that would create thousands of good-paying jobs because of election-year gridlock is flatout unacceptable. If we don't act, our people in our States will suffer.
I come to the floor every day to implore my colleagues to extend the wind production tax credit as soon as possible. The PTC equals jobs. We ought to pass it as soon as possible. I will be back next week to continue discussing the wind Production Tax Credit and urge us to be bold, take up this issue and extend the wind production tax credit. It is about American jobs. It is about maintaining our leading position in the world when it comes to clean energy development.
I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.
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