Former Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode boosts wind power in state visit

Former Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Denise Bode was back in Oklahoma last week, talking to state officials and legislators about recent growth and opportunities in the wind power industry. 

Bode, now chief executive officer at the American Wind Power Association, told CapitolBeatOK she brought home a message “about the manufacturing and rural economic development success story wind energy is creating. We are creating tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and providing an affordable, homegrown source of electricity to consumers.

“Oklahoma was number five in the U.S. for new wind power in 2011 and is in the top ten for overall wind energy. Oklahoma wind now produces enough electricity to power more than 600,000 homes. Meanwhile, wind power is producing as many as 2,000 Oklahoma jobs.”

Bode continued, “Wind is also a great source of rural economic development generating annual land lease payments of $7.5 million to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers and more than $14 million in property tax payments to local communities. Wind is a cash crop that gives farmers and ranchers an important source of guaranteed income.

“Congress needs to let us finish the job by extending our key tax incentive, the Production Tax Credit. Extending the PTC will keep taxes stable and low on this emerging new industry.”

Asked for an assessment on national progress in use of wind power, Bode reflected, “Wind power has installed more than a third of all new American electrical capacity in the last five years while also providing one of America’s fastest growing sources of U.S. manufacturing jobs.

“Remarkably, in an age of job outsourcing, wind power is actually ‘in-sourcing’ a whole new manufacturing sector. Sixty percent of a wind turbine’s value is now produced here in America, compared to 25 percent prior to 2005. As the non-partisan Congressional Research Service recently found, American wind manufacturing facilities have grown to almost 400 in 2010, up from as few as 30 in 2004.”

Bode contends the future is bright, saying, “A recently released study found that with stable tax policy the wind industry can grow to nearly 100,000 American jobs in the next four years, including growing the wind manufacturing sector by one third to 46,000 American manufacturing jobs. This will keep the wind sector on track toward supporting the 500,000 jobs by 2030 projected by the George W. Bush administration.

“But the report completed by Navigant finds that if Congress allows the PTC for wind to expire, jobs in the wind industry will be cut in half, meaning a loss of 37,000 American jobs and a one third cut to American wind manufacturing jobs, while private investment in the industry would drop by nearly two thirds.”
With that background as her premise, Bode asserts the production tax credit extension is the most significant proposal now before Congress in this area.

She says the idea has “wind champions on both sides of the aisle in both the Senate and House” in agreement. Bode reflects, “The stakes here could not be clearer. Economic studies have shown that Congressional inaction on the PTC will kill 37,000 American jobs, shutter plants and cancel billions of dollars in private investment.
“Congress needs to understand that, with PTC uncertainty, layoffs have already begun and further job losses and even plant closings will accelerate with each month we near expiration in December.”

Bode continued, “Support for an extension to wind power’s key federal tax incentive is both broad and growing. Leaders as diverse as Governor Mary Fallin (R-OK), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), and Governor John Kitzhaber (D-OR) have joined corporate icons like Nike, Campbell Soup, and Yahoo and pro-business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and American Farm Bureau in calling for a speedy extension to wind power’s critical federal tax incentive.

“Legislation extending the PTC now has 70 co-sponsors including Rep. Lucas and 17 other Republicans as well as four Republican members of the powerful Ways and Means committee.

“The broad base of support for wind energy positions us well to get the PTC extended at the next possible opportunity.”

While back in Oklahoma City, Bode had a visit with the editorial board of The Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspaper.  In a house editorial Sunday (February 26), the paper commented, “Official state policy is to encourage wind power development rather than mandate it. We think that’s best, but we also think the production tax credit deserves another term. At some point, the industry will need to stand on its own. As an emerging and vital industry, however, wind power needs the investment boost that would result from extending the tax credit.” 

Focusing on the Sooner State, Bode told CapitolBeatOK, “In addition to landowner and property tax benefits, Oklahoma wind power manufacturing jobs are increasing substantially. Siemens opened an operations and maintenance facility in Woodward on Feb. 16 and Oklahoma-made DMI towers are being installed at Oklahoma Gas and Electric’s wind projects.
“Seventeen counties in Oklahoma will have wind farms by end of 2012 and we presently have at least seven manufacturing/service facilities in the State with DMI in Catoosa being the largest with 225 employees. The new Siemens service facility in Woodward brought at least 40 more higher paying technical jobs to our state.”

Bode reflected on wind as “another great Oklahoma energy export. Other regions and companies now understand the attractive economics of Oklahoma wind power.  Alabama Power Co. decided to purchase wind-generated electricity from Tradewind’s Chisholm View wind farm in Oklahoma. The Alabama Public Service Commission reviewed this purchase.”
In its review, the Alabama commission commented, “Specifically, the delivered price of energy from the wind facility is expected to be lower than the cost the Company would incur to produce that energy from its own resource (i.e. below the Company’s avoided costs), with the resulting energy savings flowing directly to the Company’s customers.”

Concluding her discussion with CapitolBeatOK, Bode said, “This success story is being driven by our key federal tax incentive, the Production Tax Credit. Oklahoma has benefitted significantly from wind power, and our state is attracting new jobs for the industry.  Now is not the time to remove this important policy mechanism that will create more Oklahoma jobs and economic opportunity.

“The PTC is a policy very much in-line with core conservative principals. It stimulates economic growth through keeping tax rates low and stable.”

U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, an ally of Bode’s in Congress, has commented, “The PTC means keeping investment dollars in the market place – not in the hands of government.”