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Today, Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu visited Ingeteam, a wind and solar equipment manufacturer in Milwaukee. The visit showcased the company’s recent $21 million expansion and the 275 jobs the company has created or plans to add by 2015. It also indirectly demonstrated the growing wind energy industry in the state of Wisconsin (see more at NRDC’s renewable energy map)

Just as importantly, the visit highlighted the importance of the $1.66 million Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit awarded to Ingeteam for the new facility, as well as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), and the instrumental role it plays in the U.S. wind industry and maintaining its 75,000 jobs.

In Washington, Congress is about to take up whether or not to extent the Production Tax Credit that’s vital to keeping companies like Ingeteam and the entire wind industry moving forward and closer to market competitiveness with the fossil fuel energy industry that has been subsidized for decades.

A bipartisan group of policymakers is seeking to extend the PTC, but their efforts have yet to gain critical mass. These tax credits have helped drive billions of dollars in investment and helped create or sustain tens of thousands of American jobs.

Navigant Consulting forecasts that 37,000 U.S. jobs will be lost if Congress fails to renew the PTC. Secretary Chu recognizes the importance of maintaining these jobs in our tough economic climate. If Congress fails to act, we will cede these jobs overseas, backtracking on our recent progress. Why would America choose cede these markets to China when we can capture them here?

On the other hand, extending the PTC through 2016 would support 95,000 jobs, and drive $16.3 billion worth of investment, while helping companies like Ingeteam continue hiring workers and manufacturing renewable energy components. Ingeteam, which makes electrical equipment for renewable energy systems, is a unique company, but it is part of a growing number of clean, renewable energy companies jump-starting economic growth and creating jobs across America. It is one of nearly 500 companies manufacturing parts for the wind industry in the United States employing 75,000 workers nationwide.

Chu’s visit underscores the importance of this industry to develop and deploy solutions to harness our clean, renewable energy resources, create jobs, and tap into some of America’s greatest assets: our ingenuity and innovation.

Image Credit: Pedro Salaverría/Shutterstock