An article from the Investigative Reporting Workshop today (October 21) questions how jobs were saved by federal tax credits for wind power plants that were already under construction, according to federal records of when the towers went up.
In late 2008, wind project developers were laying off workers and stopping projects in mid-construction. The 1603 tax credit program for renewable energy allowed work to resume on these more-than-shovel-ready projects and saved 40,000 American jobs. Due to the program, 2009 was an all-time record year for new wind construction in the United States, and wind energy remained a bright spot in the American economy despite the recession.
The program worked by providing an advance reimbursement for the existing Production Tax Credit. Companies were expecting to receive this credit once their projects were placed in service, but it became useless when the financial markets crashed in 2008. The reimbursement program allowed projects already underway to continue. It helped domestic suppliers of wind equipment to continue expanding. And, that helped create the market certainty needed for further private investment in wind energy.
The 1603 program followed the same rules for eligibility as the Production Tax Credit it was designed to reimburse. Those rules were established when the PTC was created in 1992. The Production Tax Credit has previously been extended several times, and in each case, it has applied to wind projects already under construction, but not yet placed in service. This sends a clear message to recipients that they should keep projects going and keep people working. The 1603 program worked as it was intended to, and was so successful that all 85,000 American jobs in wind energy were preserved through the depth of the recession.
In addition, the article erred in using Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data as a basis for determining whether projects were complete. Wind projects are routinely listed with FAA well before they are actually built.
For more details, see “Renewable Energy Tax Credits: Keeping America at Work” at
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