I want to thank Senator Udall for his work bringing attention to this important issue.
To me, this issue is simple: Alternative energy, including wind power, is not only a vital component of our environmental protection efforts, but to growing our economy and creating jobs for the middle class.
Michigan is the state that put the world on wheels. Through innovation and dedication, entrepreneurs, engineers and Michigan workers combined their efforts not just to revolutionize transportation, but to create an explosion of manufacturing employment that helped create and sustain the American middle class.
Today, a new generation of Michigan innovators is harnessing the power of wind, the promise of biofuels, the power of advanced batteries. Earlier this year, I visited a wind farm in Breckenridge, Michigan, that is a marvel of technology, as far removed from the farmstead windmills of days past as a jet fighter is from the Wright Brothers' plane. That wind farm is a textbook example of how the advance of technology is helping Michigan's economy, enabling us not just to recover from the setbacks of the past, but to lead us into a brighter economic future.
Wind power is an important part of that advance. It's a rapidly growing sector of our state's electrical generating system: Wind generating capacity more than doubled in 2011, and projects under construction or in the development pipeline could increase capacity 10-fold or more. The more power we generate from wind, the more affordable, clean energy is available to our state and nation.
Michigan also has an important role in building advanced wind generation equipment, not just for our state, but for the United States and the world. Roughly 40 Michigan facilities are engaged in this business, many of them businesses that have turned expertise developed in the automotive industry to this new and growing field. Already wind is responsible for hundreds of good manufacturing jobs, and the potential is nearly as limitless as the wind itself.
That's why renewal of the Production Tax Credit is so important. The PTC has been an important factor in helping this new industry grow. If it is allowed to expire at the end of the year, it would not only hamper efforts to generate more clean energy for Michigan homes and businesses, but also dampen the potential for new manufacturing jobs tied to wind power. That's not a good outcome for our environment, for Michigan families or for the American economy.
So again I thank Senator Udall for his focus on this issue. I hope as we work to address the many pressing issues we must resolve before the end of the year, we can resolve this one as well, and maintain the momentum of clean energy to help our environment and our economy.