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Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act -- Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. REED. Mr. President, I commend the Senator from Colorado, Senator Udall, for his leadership on this very important issue. I also want to commend my colleague Senator Whitehouse, who has been extraordinarily effective as a national leader on energy policy and ocean policy.

As Senator Udall pointed out, we are at a very critical moment. Nationally, with the support of the wind production tax credit, or the PTC, nearly 500 facilities across 44 States manufacture components for the wind energy industry. These products are critical to our future. The U.S. content of wind turbines installed in the United States has grown from 25 percent prior to 2005 to 60 percent today, according to the American Wind Energy Association. So we are actually seeing a situation in which American components are displacing foreign components in wind turbine installations that are being deployed here in the United States. That is an encouraging sign, because it means more jobs in manufacturing and it means more American content in products that would be purchased by Americans. This is fundamentally premised on the availability of the wind PTC, and so we have to maintain it. If we do not, then we are again at the mercy of world markets in which we suspect that there are countries that are supporting, directly and indirectly, their wind energy sectors very aggressively.

We need comprehensive reform of our Tax Code. That will be discussed, I am sure, in the months ahead. But we can't forget that this production tax credit for wind and credits for other clean energy resources support manufacturing jobs across this country, saves money for middle-class families, and increases our global competitiveness. As we think about tax reform, we also have to think about those programs that produce jobs, and this program is one of those job-producing tax provisions.

We in Rhode Island have taken steps, as Senator Udall has alluded to, to try to position ourselves to be at the forefront of clean energy development and wind production, particularly offshore wind production. Due in part to strong State policy--and I will commend my colleagues in the State government--we ranked fifth in the country according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy's annual energy efficiency scorecard. Our main utility, National Grid, and our State leaders are taking very aggressive steps to lower the amount of energy we use, which helps us in terms of our competitiveness across the globe and with other States in the country.

We have also tried to be a leader in offshore wind, for obvious reasons. We are the Ocean State. We are linked to the ocean, inextricably and historically. Offshore wind is something that could be a huge benefit not only for ourselves but for our region.

Quonset Point is a former naval base which was closed in the 1970s. Fortunately, through the work of our predecessors, it became the site of submarine construction. Now it can also be the site of the assembly of turbines because of our access to the coast, because of the investments we made in terms of cranes, because of the investments we have made in shoring up the docks and the bulkheads. We are positioned to be a leader in the assembly of offshore wind turbines.

Part of this is not just the assembly expertise, but part of it is also the fact that we have done the fundamental environmental work necessary to make sure this economic development is environmentally sound as well as economically sound. Our local leaders have created the Ocean Special Area Management Plan, or Ocean SAMP, which essentially helps guide the locations for proper placement of wind turbines in the ocean. Among other considerations, it takes into consideration the geology, the tide, the fishing patterns, and the recreational use of the waters. They have come up with a very sophisticated plan, so we are well positioned to start creating this offshore wind production facility with the jobs onshore.

Also, as my colleague, the Senator from Colorado, pointed out, we have companies in the State that are leaders in the onshore wind industry. TPI Composites is one of them. It started as a boat builder. It used fiberglass to fabricate hulls for boats. It was sophisticated, it was state of the art. But then they shifted several years ago, because they saw the direction of this wind power development worldwide, and they started producing fiberglass blades for wind power. They have a wonderful facility in Warren, RI, and they were on the verge of expanding.

But again, as the Senator from Colorado pointed out, because of the uncertainty of extending the wind production tax credit and because of many other factors, unfortunately they have had to reduce some of their workforce. We want to see them start growing again. We want TPI to be, as it is, a world leader in the production of this type of technology. It is sophisticated. These are good jobs. They are manufacturing jobs. They are American jobs. They are the kind of work we want to be doing worldwide, so that when you go anyplace in the world and you look up, you will see a blade whose tooling, engineering, and manufacturing processes were made in Warren, RI, not in China or elsewhere.

We have a challenge in Rhode Island with 11 percent unemployment. So these are the kinds of jobs we not only want for the moment, but we want for the future, because they are valuable. They are not just a contribution in the short run for putting people to work, they are a contribution in the long run, to our economy, to better use of energy, to better environmental quality, to a host of values that will turn out to have huge benefits for the people of Rhode Island and the people of this Nation.

I commend the Senator from Colorado for his consistent and persistent efforts to ensure we do not forget the wind production tax credit, and that we are still working hard to ensure we are able to support American manufacturing.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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