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Microsoft, Sprint Call for Extension to Wind Power Tax Credit

Microsoft and communications firm Sprint have become the latest US firms to petition congressional leaders for an extension of the production tax credit for wind power, which is scheduled to expire this December.

The companies delivered a letter calling on Congress to immediately extend the credit to avert “imminent” layoffs and shutdowns at more than 400 wind manufacturing facilities in 43 states.

The PTC provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents per megawatt hour of generated electricity for wind developers. Since the PTC was enacted seven years ago, wind power capacity has increased by 47,000 MW, a seven-fold increase.

In the letter, Sprint and Microsoft say that the PTC has enabled the wind industry to slash wind energy costs by 90 percent since 1980. The companies call it a big reason why companies like them are buying increasing amounts of wind energy. According to the EPA, Microsoft is the third largest purchaser of green power in the US, buying more than 1.1 billion kWh annually – equivalent to 46 percent of its electricity use. Microsoft also announced last month that beginning in fiscal year 2013, the company plans to achieve carbon neutrality across all of its direct operations.

A failure to grant the extension would hurt companies’ bottom lines at a time when the economy is struggling to recover, the letter says. Eliminating the credit will shut down much of a thriving US manufacturing sector, one of the fastest-growing sources of factory jobs even in the depths of the economic slowdown, the companies said.

The companies warned Congress, “Eliminating the PTC will sharply increase prices for wind energy and particularly affect the many large and influential companies that are already committed to buying and using wind energy.“

Microsoft and Sprint are the largest wind customer companies to call on Congress to extend the credit, ranking 37th and 90th, respectively, in the Fortune 500, and with combined annual revenues of over $100 billion.

They join 15 other major US companies and consumer brands, including Starbucks, Nike, Campbell’s Soup, Staples, and Yahoo!, which signed a similar letter in February.

In April, Chad Hall – the founder and vice president of sales at Ioxus Inc. – wrote a column for Environmental Leader outlining why Congress should not kill the credit. Hall called the extension “necessary for both the future of green energy and the future of American workers.”

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