Wind Jobs at Risk

New study aims at Congressional inaction

Bill Opalka | Dec 12, 2011


The wind industry pulled out the big guns to drive the point that inconsistent tax policy has a cost. A new study was released to show that one-half of its manufacturing jobs are at risk without a renewal of the production tax credit beyond 2012.

The credit may be on the books for another year, but the industry supply chain would show signs of collapse in about six months, representatives of the wind manufacturing sector said in a conference call sponsored by the American Wind Energy Association.

A new study released this week said stable tax policy would create and save 54,000 American jobs in the next four years, including growing the wind manufacturing sector by one third to 46,000 American manufacturing jobs. This will keep the wind sector on track toward supporting the 500,000 jobs by 2030 projected in a report by the U.S. Department of Energy.

The report by Navigant said that if Congress allows the production tax credit (PTC) for wind to expire, jobs in the wind industry will be cut in half, meaning a loss of 37,000 American jobs and a one third cut to American wind manufacturing jobs, while private investment in the industry would drop by nearly two thirds.

Without the certainty of a continued credit, order books for 2013 would mostly disappear, representatives from a turbine manufacturer, a gearbox builder and a steel tower fabricator.

Siemens entered the wind business in 2005 and now employs 1,800 in facilities mostly in the Midwest, representing a $100 million investment.

“All of that growth is now jeopardized if the PTC is not extended,” said Kevin Hazel of Siemens. “The planning cycle in our industry is in excess of a year” which is causing customers to scale back on their orders.

With a four-year extension of the PTC, 100,000 new jobs would be created, according to the study.

AWEA said there are now more than 400 U.S. facilities supplying wind turbine components.

American manufacturers have seen a drop in orders, and layoffs have already started.  For the purposes of the American wind industry manufacturing sector, which needs lead time to make its products, the PTC effectively expires at the end of this year, AWEA said.

“If this goes well into 2012, we’ll see a significant downturn in the industry, just as we did before (when the credit lapsed),” said Terry R. Royer, CEO of Winergy Drive Systems Corporation.

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Representatives Dave Reichert (R, Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D, Ore.) seeks to grant a four-year extension to the existing PTC, which has enjoyed bipartisan support since 1992, despite its occasional lapses.

A four-year PTC extension has the support of the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition comprised of 23 Republican and Democrat Governors from across the U.S.

But can that be translated into votes in Congress in December of 2011?

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high lonesome wind ranch turbine failures audio

Wind turbines are subject to mechanical failure which may be more expensive to fix than the electrity they generate?

Another tax credit subsidy, whatever happened to competition. Fossil-fueled generation is not only far less expensive, it is RELIABLE. The pets "wind, solar" are as-generated and NOT reliable or base load energies and unless cost effective energy storage id developed never will be reliable.

Do PTCs amount to socialism?

Using the federal government to transfer money from taxpayers to businesses that are not economically feasible enough to stand on their own seems to smack of socialism.  Basically, the PTCs are transferring taxpayer funds to the pockets of Siemens, GE, Communist Chinese manufacturers and a host of other wealthy entities, some of whom pay no income taxes.  Not exactly socialism but darn sure quasi-socialism.

What happens if Congress were to exempt only the income from wind and solar facilities from taxes?  Think they would still be feasible?  Think the big boys would still be hopping to get in the game if they no longer get to take a credit against their corporate income taxes?  If some corporations avoid taxes with PTCs or get "federal money" in the form of grants then who the hell do you think the feds will get the money from to make up for the lost revenue and pay the cash grants?

What about all the jobs that green energy is interfering with--newer, more efficient power plants that are not getting built representing many construction jobs and permanent operating and maintenance jobs; oil and gas field development jobs; new refineries and gas treating jobs, both construction and o&m; new businesses and industry that is not built because of the level of corporate taxes in the US not to mention the regulations pouring out of EPA to force green energy and government financial oversight bureaucracies.

PTCs and cash grants are stupid, economy-wrecking policy.