WASHINGTON—They are a family that’s becoming increasingly common in the U.S. these days: The American wind power family.
Eric Melbardis, an operations manager at EDP Renewables North America’s Kittitas wind power facility in Kittitas County, Wash., wife Sharon, and daughter Emma recently vacationed in Washington, D.C., “to see our [nation’s] capital,” as Eric says. The Melbardis family and their visit to Washington, D.C.—along with how that city impacts their lives 3,000 miles away—are the subjects of the latest segment of WindTV
, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) vehicle to highlight how wind works for America.
While in the nation’s capital, the family took the opportunity to visit their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. “We were able to talk to them about what wind energy is doing back in their [congressional] districts as well as things that we would like to see in the future—like an extension of the PTC,” said Eric.
Melbardis was referring to the federal Production Tax Credit, wind power’s primary policy driver, which is set to expire at the end of the year. Already, factories across America that supply components to the wind power industry are being affected because of the policy uncertainty caused by Congress not having passed a PTC extension yet.
“Our company has projects on the shelf now that we would love to develop, but because of the uncertainty of the PTC, we’re not sure that it’s viable right now,” said Melbardis, echoing the conundrum plaguing wind power developers across the U.S.
In addition to providing clean, affordable energy at locked-in prices, wind power is becoming increasingly known for its ability to create well-paid jobs for Americans, both at wind power projects and in areas with wind equipment manufacturing facilities. But the impending expiration of the PTC is putting this American success story in peril.
“It’s a wonderful position that my husband has,” Sharon says in the video segment. “It allows us to live a wonderful life.”
“The American wind power industry is proud to provide jobs for families like the Melbardises,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “We can do so much more, but the jobs that we have already created are being threatened by the lack of an extension of the Production Tax Credit. The policy uncertainty is rippling down our industry’s supply chain, and so Congress must take action now.”
The quintessential husband-and-wife team, the Melbardises sometimes even finish each other’s sentences on the video. “I love my job,” says Eric. “Looking out my office window, there’s beautiful mountains…and white turbines…and—”
“And elk,” says Sharon with a laugh.
“And elk,” confirms Eric. “Elk that live around the turbines—it’s a good job.”
WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at www.awea.org/windtv
, features a different video profile each week.
To hear more about the Melbardises and how wind power works for America, go to WindTV