RIO VISTA -- Construction has entered the final phase at EDF Renewable Energy’s fourth major wind-turbine project in southeastern Solano County, just as federal incentives for wind-energy projects are set to expire.
[caption id="attachment_62173" align="alignright" width="389"] At the Shiloh IV blade signing were (from left) EDF Renewable Energy Chairman James Walker; Fong Wan, PG&E senior vice president for energy procurement; Assemblymembers Steven Bradford and Nancy Skinner; Rep. John Garamendi; California Energy Commissioner Carla Peterman; California Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron; President and CEO Tristan Grimbert; Southwest Vice President Mark Tholke; and Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan.[/caption]
On Sept. 24, EDF Renewable Energy (edf-re.com) commemorated the installation of one of the last turbines at its Shiloh IV project on about 3,000 acres in the Montezuma Hills south of Highway 12 with a turbine-blade signing near Rio Vista.
EDF and the U.S. wind industry as a whole have just 90 days to complete current construction activities to be eligible for the federal production tax credit for wind energy, which is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.
“As one could imagine, we are working furiously to finish all five of our wind-energy projects across the nation, including Shiloh IV,” said Mark Tholke, vice president for EDF Renewable Energy’s southwest region. The other projects are in Kern County, Kansas and Texas. “Wind tax credits have expired before and have been renewed and made retroactive. We hope that history will repeat itself. In the past, support for wind energy on Capitol Hill was strong and bipartisan, but this time things are less certain.”
He said anxiety over the economy and budget issues in Washington has changed the climate for renewable energy, to some degree, as competition and lobbying from natural gas and coal interests have increased.
The American Wind Energy Association has been actively trying to convince Congress that, given the typical seven-year project-development cycle, development and investment dollars will not be as readily available in the future without renewal of the tax credits.
The loss of these credits also could put more than 37,000 U.S. jobs in jeopardy, as well as impact a host of other jobs in the industry’s supply chain.
“In 2005, only 25 percent of the content going into wind turbines was American-made,” Mr. Tholke added. "By 2012 this figure had risen to 60 percent, showing how domestic manufacturers have embraced this technology and have established a steady market and industry. If tax credits are not renewed, U.S.-made content will be reduced.”