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Wind Production Tax Credit

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I have come to the floor this morning, as I have for many mornings, to talk about the wind energy industry and the importance of tax credits. And this is another job I want to see us get done as soon as possible--to extend the wind production tax credit. It expires in less than a month.

This tax credit has been vital for job creation and for our American manufacturing. Literally, the PTC--the production tax credit--has encouraged the creation of tens of thousands of good-paying middle-class jobs, and it has led to millions in capital investment in States such as Colorado. In fact, 48 States have a wind energy industry presence. Along with the capital investments, what we have seen is the development of thousands of megawatts of clean renewable wind power. And if we let this PTC expire, the stakes are very high.

I have come to the floor 24 times to speak to the importance of the PTC and the benefits it provides for families and businesses in every State across the Nation. I am here because the wind PTC is a critical investment in and a downpayment toward a clean energy future--a future at risk if we don't act and act soon. It is not too late to act. It truly isn't. And to give us more motivation, to point out what is at risk, I wish to focus today on the State of Minnesota and direct my remarks to their wind energy industry.

Minnesota, as we know, is the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Although Minnesota's namesake may be its water, it has become a leader in the wind energy industry and a compelling example of the positive effects the PTC can have in a State. Let me share some numbers to make the point.

As of 2011, Minnesota ranks fifth nationally for the most installed wind capacity, with over 2,700 megawatts, and it trails only Illinois, Iowa, California, and Texas. You can see all the blue areas on the map. Those are areas in which there is installed wind operations. In fact, wind energy meets 12.7--I will round that up to 13 percent of the State's energy needs. This ranks fourth among all States. That means they are powering through the wind energy industry the equivalent of 770,000 Minnesota homes, and that number is going up. It is growing.

We know through our two colleagues from Minnesota that Minnesotans take pride in everything having to do with Minnesota, and well they should. And they are taking pride in being in the forefront of wind power growth. Since 2003 Minnesotans have purchased 1 billion kilowatt hours of energy through Windsource, which is Minnesota's voluntary green power program. It means over 20,000 residents and about 240 businesses pay a little extra on their electric bill to support wind energy and show their commitment to a clean energy economy. I know this works because we have a similar program in Colorado. Excel also has a presence in Colorado, and they offer Windsource to Coloradans.

Now, Minnesota's prominence as a wind power State has been aided by the fact that it also has a successful wind manufacturing industry, and those manufacturing facilities in Minnesota have created hundreds of good-paying jobs and new investments. Federal incentives, including the PTC, have played a crucial role in making Minnesota the wind leader it is today.

If that isn't enough, I want to highlight further the substantial benefits this crucial industry has had on Minnesota.

No. 1, the wind industry accounts for 3,000 good-paying jobs for hard-working Minnesotans, including jobs at the State's 16 wind manufacturing facilities. You can see all these green circles, and those green circles are where those manufacturing facilities are located. The workers at these plants and the facilities themselves help supply and maintain wind projects that contribute $7.6 million annually in property taxes. Those projects, in fact, provide local communities with funds to help improve schools, roads, and all the other crucial services local governments provide.

Furthermore, Minnesota's strong manufacturing industry has supported rapid growth in the wind capacity of the State. Let me share those numbers with you. In 2011 the State added 542 megawatts of wind power capacity, the fourth-most of any State. So extending the PTC is crucial to continuing Minnesota's growth in wind energy and making progress toward a clean energy economy. In fact, the Minnesota utility, Northern States Power, will have close to 1,900 megawatts of wind in their energy portfolio by the end of 2012. And listen to this: In 2011 the utility got more electricity from wind than it did from natural gas.

I know many of us understand what the future could hold, based on what experts are telling us, and we know that wind and natural gas will be partners going forward.

There is a synergy between wind and natural gas. This stands out as an important milestone for Northern States Power. This company's investment in wind energy has helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 3.1 million tons. So the leadership of companies such as Northern States Power demonstrates that when we invest in clean energy, we are creating jobs and strengthening our energy security at the same time.

I want to close with a couple of comments more broadly. Minnesota is not alone in its success, but these gains and the thousands of jobs that the PTC supports are at risk if we don't act. During the summer and the fall work period, we saw the effects of not extending the production tax credit. Companies such as Vestas in Colorado announced layoffs and pulled back capital investments.

It is pretty simple. Production tax credit equals jobs. We need to pass it as soon as possible. Enough is enough. If we don't extend it, we are going to see a very significant continuation of these job losses.

So let's find a way forward. Let's work together. Let's extend the PTC. The longer this extension is delayed, the quicker success stories from States such as Colorado and Minnesota could disappear. We simply cannot let this happen. Let's extend the PTC as soon as possible.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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