U.S. House turns its back on American workers

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For months Congress has touted a tax reform bill that would supposedly unleash powerful economic growth and expand opportunities for American workers. Now that the House bill has passed, calling it a disappointment would be a big understatement.

The House of Representatives is proposing to renege on a 2015 bipartisan agreement to phase out the wind energy production tax credit (PTC), when the wind industry agreed to tax reform ourselves. This move could jeopardize over 60,000 American jobs and put more than $50 billion of private infrastructure investment at risk.

Congressional leaders have repeatedly said they want to create an environment that will help American businesses compete. But this bill contains provisions that should shake any business’ confidence to the core — it changes the rules less than two years after the ink dried on Congress’s deal with the wind industry.

This bill reduces the value of the tax credit and retroactively rewrites the rules for how a wind project qualifies for the PTC — the tool Congress designed for the wind industry to access capital and build out U.S. infrastructure. Investors who poured billions of dollars into factory orders and construction contracts cannot travel back in time to meet new regulations. Because of this, projects that were once economical may no longer be financially viable. That means orders for new turbines will be canceled, and companies will walk away from contracts to build new wind farms.

In fact, half of the wind projects scheduled to be built between now and 2020 would not go forward under the House’s proposal, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That would cause a corresponding number of wind job losses.

The House bill creates a new reality where Congress can undo business deals and change the economics of commitments midcourse, undermining investor confidence and threatening American jobs.

This is about much more than the bottom line, however. This will hurt real American families.

Our company builds wind turbine blades in Newton, the home of Maytag for over 100 years. But a decade ago, Maytag closed its doors in Newton, eliminating the town’s largest source of employment. However, because of Iowa’s booming wind business, the downturn didn’t last long. Two wind factories building wind turbine blades and towers now operate in Newton and have created new opportunities the town relies on.

The House’s bill puts this comeback story, and so many others, at risk. Iowa is home to 11 wind component manufacturing facilities and over 9,000 wind workers.

This time Congress is sending an unexpected new tax bill to the wind industry, but what sector of the economy will come into the crosshairs next? How can any company confidently invest in U.S. workers and manufacturers when threats loom that Congress could change their business realities years down the road?

Iowa’s congressional delegation knows how important wind has been for our state, and we know they’re fighting for us. We hope other Senators and representatives will keep honoring their commitment to America’s wind workers and rural communities.

House lawmakers say they want a booming economy and opportunities for American workers, but this retroactive tax hike does the opposite. Let’s honor 2015’s bipartisan deal and keeping wind energy’s American success story going.

• Steve Lockard is president and CEO of Iowa-based wind turbine blade manufacturer TPI Composites and is a member of the American Wind Energy Association

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