“They're just locking in prices they've never seen before,” Salerno said. “It just makes so much sense, and you're seeing neighboring states wanting to get in on the action. Utilities outside Oklahoma are looking to benefit from this low-cost power by signing contracts.”
However, continued uncertainty over the tax credit will deter future project development, said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. He urged Congress to renew the credit to provide stability to the wind industry.
“In the absence of long-term policies, the wind industry should not be left out in the cold while Congress decides the way forward on energy,” Kiernan said in a news release.
Salerno said suppliers and factories are buzzing with activity, with many manufacturers adding shifts to keep up with demand.
“We're going to see factory activity continue for a little while, but if you're early on in the supply chain, you're the first to see the falloff,” she said. “That's what we're trying to prevent here; it's not a very efficient way to maintain manufacturing in this country.”
Congress is focused on broader measures of tax reform, but the wind industry continues to push for a package of tax breaks, known as extenders, that include renewal of the production tax credit. In previous years when the credit expired, Congress renewed the incentive and made it retroactive.
The incentive gave producers a 2.3 cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for electricity from wind generation for up to 10 years. Estimates from Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Research Service put the cost of the credit at between $7.7 billion and $9.7 billion from 2013 to 2017.