Veterans seeking good, well-paying jobs can find great opportunities in the clean energy sector -- jobs that enable them to continue to help safeguard America's national security. At Airstreams Renewables Inc., we train veterans for jobs in the renewable energy sector. Our veteran graduates are a great fit with our company, and the renewable energy industry in general, because they have seen the extent to which America's oil habit is directly connected to our national security, and they understand that true security lies in developing alternative energy sources here at home.
Maximizing the benefits America can realize from clean energy requires driving new renewable energy investments, through tools like the Production Tax Credit. This credit provides businesses like the ones I advise with an incentive for completing new projects, adding to America's pool of renewable energy and creating thousands of jobs in the process. Assuming this policy is allowed to continue, the wind energy sector is expected to create 100,000 jobs over the next four years. But without the Production Tax Credit that kind of growth is likely to slow considerably or even dry up completely.
So I'm in Washington, D.C., this week to explain to our leaders the benefits of continuing the tax credit and to urge them to continue their support for this policy. I hope they will adopt the same visionary leadership style on this issue as the military has already displayed.
California's own Edwards Air Force Base is in the process of installing a solar system that will meet 10 percent of the base's energy needs. And they've done so using a Power Purchase Agreement with a solar company, which means the military avoids the cost of installation, while saving taxpayer dollars by purchasing solar energy at a lower rate than buying energy from the grid. In turn, the solar company pays Edwards AFB to lease the land for the solar system. It's a win-win arrangement.
Some Air Force bases, like Dyess AFB in Texas and Fairchild AFB in Washington, are now producing 100 percent of their energy needs from renewable energy. The Air Force even generates its own power using wind farms on Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic and at F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming. And the success of these projects is driving other bases to install their own wind farms.
The reasons that the military is investing in renewable energy are the same reasons we all should -- it saves money and lives. And it's the Production Tax Credit that makes these projects faster, bigger and better. There are many reasons why continuing this policy is a good idea, but here are just a few:
* No energy produced, no tax credit received. It's really that simple.
* It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat -- everyone thinks it's a good thing.
* It works. Today, we have more wind energy being sold for less money than ever before.
* 60 percent of the components that go into a wind turbine are made here in America.
Pulling the rug out from under the tax credit would have a crippling effect on businesses poised to put their money into these projects. Even talking about discontinuing the policy gives them cold feet. So let's go all in and reap all the benefits of renewable energy -- the jobs, the savings, the cleaner air and above all, the security of knowing we've got what we need right here on American soil.
I hope the leaders I met in Washington this week see that a little tax credit goes a long way.
Jeff Duff, president and COO of Airstreams Renewables Inc. in Tehachapi, has more than 11 years experience in the wind industry.