Despite the fact that South Carolina, and most of the Southeast, has no utility-scale wind farms, we are reaping the benefits of the industry even today. In fact, especially today. Earlier today, Cape Wind, the first proposed offshore wind farm in the United States, which is being built off the coast of Massachusetts, announced that they are buying their transmission cables from Abbeville, South Carolina manufacturer Prysmian (who also supplied the cables to Clemson’s new turbine testing center in North Charleston).
This is great news for our state and a reminder that South Carolina is a real player in the wind energy industry. Because of contracts like these, South Carolina already hosts around 1,100 employees working in the wind industry, among 33 businesses, as identified by Clemson University in 2012. Our wind workforce would grow even more if we were to build offshore wind farms along our wind-rich coastline.
This news also goes to show that federal policies, such as the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit (both of which, Congress let expire at the end of the year) that support out-of-state development still benefit states that don’t have wind farms installed yet. The converse is true too–that failure to uphold policies conducive to economic development results in impacts to businesses back here in the South. In 2012, Kaydon Corporation had to shut down one of its manufacturing plants in Sumter, S.C. because Congress continually fails to set a stable tax policy. Legislators, take note!
The wind industry tax credits reduce the burdens on private industry and have been quite popular among conservative political leaders. With Cape Wind’s contract with a South Carolina company, the benefits of these tax policies should be obvious to our elected officials. It’s time for Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit for wind energy.