President Obama will make the final call on whether a Chinese-owned company can build wind farms in the United States near a Navy installation in Oregon, a government lawyer told a federal judge yesterday. Joel McElvain, a lawyer for the Justice Department, made the comments to Judge Amy Berman Jackson at the U.S. District Court hearing on Ralls Corp.’s lawsuit to block the United States’ rejection of the wind farm project.
New layoffs at Siemens AG’s DE +0.30% wind-power factories in the U.S. mark the latest retrenchment in the wind industry caused in part by the looming expiration of a federal tax credit.
Siemens, a global leader in wind-turbine manufacturing, said Tuesday it would eliminate more than 600 positions, or about 37% of its U.S. wind-turbine-manufacturing jobs. The cuts include 407 jobs at its Fort Madison, Iowa, blade factory and 146 at a factory in Hutchinson, Kan., that makes nacelles, or housing, for the turbines’ generators and gears. Additionally, Siemens said 330 temporary positions added to help with busy times earlier won’t be renewed.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa said, “The only thing that I have been successful on is, we do have a tax bill, out of the Finance Committee, and I do have the extension to the wind energy tax credit in it.” But Senator Grassley does not expect the package, containing extensions to 50-60 other credits, to go before the House before Congress recesses.
Siemens AG (SIE) will eliminate 615 jobs at U.S. factories producing windmills in response to declining orders, dealing a blow to Chief Executive Officer Peter Loescher’s push into environmentally friendly energy sources. “The industry is facing a significant drop in new orders, and this has an unfortunate consequence on employment in this segment of the power industry,” Munich-based Siemens said today in a message to employees that was obtained by Bloomberg.
Last month, Gamesa, a major maker of wind turbines, completed the first significant order of its latest innovation: a camper-size box that can capture the energy of slow winds, potentially opening up new parts of the country to wind power. But by the time the last of the devices, worth more than $1.25 million, was hitched to a rail car, Gamesa had all but shut down its factory here and furloughed 92 of the workers who made them. “We are all really sad,” said Miguel Orobiyi, 34, who worked as a mechanical assembler at the Gamesa plant for nearly five years. “I hope they call us back because they are really, really good jobs.”
At least moderate levels of drought affect 64 percent of the contiguous United States, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which compiles data from federal and academic scientists. “This is the greatest extent of drought we’ve seen all summer,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist at the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. “The drought is easing in the East, but we’re seeing more of it expand in the central Plains, Rockies and Dakotas.”
While many members of the U.S. House of Representatives are doing everything in their power to prevent the further development of clean energy, others are still fighting hard to ensure wind and solar have a place in the country’s future. As the House Energy and Commerce Committee pushed through the “No More Solyndras Act” – legislation that would terminate the U.S. Department of Energy’s loan-guarantee program – some members of the House slammed their colleagues for what many consider to be a symbolic attack on clean energy.
Molded Fiber Glass is laying off one-fourth of its workforce in Aberdeen. Plant manager Dave Giovannini tells the Aberdeen (S.D) American News that 92 people are losing their jobs. About 370 people worked at the plant.
Nuclear giant Exelon Corp. released a study today claiming production tax credits for wind generators are distorting the electricity markets. The Exelon-sponsored report says tax production credits for wind should be allowed to expire at the end of the year because they incentivize wind generators, mainly in the Midwest and Texas, to produce electricity at a rate that harms other generators and threatens reliability.
Environmentalists today released a report highlighting the potential for offshore wind to create thousands of jobs and power millions of homes along the Atlantic Coast but warning that the nascent industry is threatened by the looming expiration of key tax breaks. The National Wildlife Federation report comes during what clean energy advocates have dubbed “wind week,” in which numerous groups are pushing for an extension of wind industry tax breaks that will disappear at the end of this year unless Congress acts. The report provides a snapshot of where things stand in the U.S. offshore wind industry, which severely lags the more robust European pursuit of offshore winds that has been growing for the last 20 years. Although no turbines have been constructed along the East Coast, several projects are expected to begin soon, including the Cape Wind facility that aims to begin construction next year. The Interior Department also has set aside wind development zones offshore from Massachusetts to Virginia, and several states along the coast have pursued policies to aid the development of offshore wind.