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Nov 132012
 

From Green Right Now Reports

A bipartisan coalition of governors has written to Congress to plead for the extension of the Production Tax Credit that has helped fuel the development of wind energy in the U.S..

The PTC, set to expire at the end of December, provides wind developers with a tax break that makes the business more profitable. Proponents say it’s needed to level the playing field for new energy, which  must compete against subsidized fossil fuel industries like coal and natural gas.

The leaders of the coalition, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstand (R) and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) held a news conference today warning that the loss of the PTC would put thousands of jobs at risk. The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes governors from 23 states, asked Congress to act immediately to shore up the industry and send a signal to private investment that the U.S. is committed to renewable energy.

The letter points out that the wind sector supports direct wind jobs and manufacturing at nearly 500 facilities spread across the U.S., employing 75,000 Americans.

“The wind industry urgently needs a PTC extension to diversity our nation’s energy portfolio and fuel these high-tech jobs,” Branstand and Kitzhaber write on behalf of the coalition. “…We believe the industry will be competitive in the not-so-distant future with other well-established fuel sources.”

The governors are asking for a multi-year extension to help companies better plan and deliver these projects, which sometimes take two years of development before ground is broken.

Without the PTC, which provides for a 2.2 cent tax credit per kilowatt hour produced for 10 years, an estimated 37,000 wind industry jobs could be lost, and the opportunity to “leverage $10 billion in private investment,” the governors note.

Congress’ failure to renew the PTC has already sent a chill through the U.S. wind industry, triggering layoffs in several states.

“Our states are already seeing these impacts. For example, wind turbine manufacturer Vestas laid off 182 of its employees, and has stated that 1,600 of its employees — most of whom are Colorado-based — are at risk. Clipper Wind Power has laid off 100 workers at its plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. SIemens laid off 407 workers at its blade manufacturing facility in Fort Madison, Iowa,” the letter reports.

The governors concluded:

“The United States has some of the best wind resources in the world, but the lack of policy stability hinders the nation’s ability to develop them fully. Please support our states in the pursuit of economic strength, energy diversity, and consumer savings by acting quickly to extend the PTC.”

The American Wind Energy Association reports that Congressional bills already filed would help sustain the industry, if Congress could pass either a version put forth by the House or the Senate.

A House bill that would extend the PTC has 110 cosponsors, including 25 Republicans; a Senate bill has the support of seven Senators, including three Republicans, AWEA reported Tuesday.

The accounting calls out the number of Republicans to show the bipartisan nature of the support for wind incentives, which could be expected to face the greatest resistance from Republicans who’ve vowed not to add spending measures to the budget.


Jan 122012
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Vestas wind turbines in the US.

In an ominous sign that the world economy is dragging on the wind industry, Denmark-based Vestas Wind announced today that it will lay off more than 2,300 employees as part of a reorganization to keep the company competitive.

The lay off of employees — 1,749 in Europe, 182 in the US and 404 in China and elsewhere — will help the company streamline and reduce its fixed costs by more than 150 million Euro, according to a statement.

Vestas, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer, also announced that it is preparing for a “potential slowdown in the US in case the present Production Tax Credit (PTC) is not extended.”

The PTC offers wind developers a tax credit based on the size of their project. It has been credited with keeping the industry’s sails billowing, even during the recent economic recession.

The PTC is due to expire at the end of 2012, and US wind advocates have urged Congress to renew the provision so that wind developers can continue to attract businesses and provide jobs. But deficit hawks in Congress have been reluctant to pass such measures, even though they are not direct spending bills, but tax abatements.

If the US fails to extend the PTC, Vestas says it will lay off an additional 1,600 employees at plants in the US, an announcement that caused the American Wind Energy Association to issue its own statement urging Congress to pay attention.

“Today’s Vestas announcement shows the danger to U.S. manufacturing jobs if Congress waits any longer to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC). The layoffs have begun, and every week that goes by without a PTC extension puts these good American jobs at greater risk,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode.

“Manufacturers like Vestas have invested billions of dollars a year in the U.S. economy, and wind energy has become one of the fastest-growing sources of new American manufacturing jobs. Studies show that with stable tax policy the wind industry can grow to nearly 100,000 American jobs in the next four years and support 500,000 American jobs by 2030. But we have to provide this industry with stable tax policy and a predictable business climate. A PTC extension needs to be first on the list of priorities to be included when Congress gets back to work again in a few weeks.”

The rest of Vestas’ multi-page announcement explained that the company’s restructuring of top management and divisions was aimed at reducing costs, achieving better economies of scale and readying the company for a renewed emphasis on offshore wind.

The statement noted that Vestas remains flush with business,  starting 2012 with a backlog of orders for 7.4 Gigawatts of wind.

It will continue forward after the layoffs with 20,400 employees.