We need wind power. It's one of the key energy sources of the future, and it's creating good jobs in an industry with near-guaranteed lasting power. But it's in trouble. So perhaps making the whole sector appear a bit more 'American' will help win the hearts and minds of voters. At least, that's what a new ad campaign is wagering with a slick new ad that you could mistake for a Ford commercial.
Earlier today, Mat explained exactly why the expiring tax credits for wind energy makes for some some seriously bad news. Despite the fact that wind power is already competitive with fossil fuel-produced energy in many markets, the weak economy means that investors are looking for conventional, tried-and-true safe bets.
And though it is rapidly becoming one of the top energy sources in the world, wind (or renewable technology in general, for that matter) has simply not received adequate support in the United States. Federal policies offer tax credits one year, then threaten to vanish the next. Because we've been unable to pin down any sort of long term support for renewables, it always boils down to a nail-biting, 'will-they-won't-they' game of chicken in Congress at the end of the year, in which renewable energy companies battle for even short term support.
Yet despite this lack of foresight--but thanks in part to the small support that has been offered up--the wind power industry has grown at a rapid clip in the United States. It supports tens of thousands of good jobs, and is a burgeoning multimillion dollar industry. But, as Mat wrote, it remains seriously threatened by the expiration of these tax credits.
And bear in mind, this is not a red state/blue state thing. Conservatives and liberals alike appreciate good job growth in a sustainable sector, and the wind industry has provided that. Hence, this TV ad aimed at ginning up support for preserving the credit, steeped in Americana and classic labor imagery:
Can't say that I'm a fan of employing the same tactics that the oil industry did when its subsidies were threatened: Calling the expiration of tax breaks "raising taxes". But hey, if you can't beat 'em ...
And allow me to reiterate that Americans don't need to be 'sold' on wind power. In poll after poll after poll, they voice their support, in sizable majorities, for more federal funding for clean energy. But perhaps some humanizing of wind workers is in order for states that don't see as much of it (unlike Iowa, which has a vibrant wind industry). You know, get the blood running some. It couldn't hurt.