Forty-seven House Republicans are calling for an end to the federal production tax credit for wind energy, invoking the failed Solyndra solar energy company to decry the subsidy as another Obama administration green energy handout that picks winners and losers. The group, led by Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo — a vocal opponent of all forms of energy subsidies — submitted a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday urging him to allow the PTC to expire by the end of the year as scheduled.
Just as the wind energy industry is poised for a record year, uncertainty about federal energy policy is threatening to pull the plug on its future. The federal production tax credit for wind power is set to expire in less than three months. Wind energy companies are already curtailing manufacturing and construction plans, laying off workers along the way. More layoffs are expected if we don’t act quickly. An estimated 37,000 Americans stand to lose their jobs within the next six months, according to the American Wind Energy Association, if Congress does not extend the tax credit, which supports the generation of wind energy. A similar fate awaits other renewable energy sectors, including biomass and waste-to-energy, which have tax credits set to expire next year.
The wind industry’s main trade association is predicting that new installations will fall to zero without a renewal of the production tax credit, which applies only to projects finished by New Year’s Eve. Since renewal is iffy, some wind machine factories are already shutting down, as my colleague Diane Cardwell reported on Friday. From another perspective, this is the moment for the feast before the famine: the impending deadline means that a surge of projects are approaching completion. On Saturday, officials will cut the ribbon on what some people say is the largest onshore wind farm in the United States, Shepherds Flat in north-central Oregon.
The once bright future of wind energy is looking a bit dimmer these days. The recent announcement that “Siemens Energy” plans to lay off more than 600 workers in three states, including a plant in Iowa, not only affects current jobs, but may also impact those looking to enter the wind energy field. Since he was a Freshman in high school, Adam Kadner knew he wanted to study a career in wind energy.
The wind power industry boasts enviable political assets in its fight to preserve a prized tax benefit. Republican and Democratic governors trumpet the benefits of wind energy; industry officials can identify manufacturing jobs at risk in crucial presidential election swing states if the tax credit expires; and a phalanx of lobbyists and consultants are working to ensure it stays in place for at least one more year. But now an unusual coalition is fighting the extension, including tea party followers, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the electric utility most closely associated with President Obama. The result is an unpredictable and intense lobbying fight.
A Republican member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is floating a plan to quell debate surrounding the fate of the wind production tax credit slated to expire at the end of the year. Commissioner Philip Moeller said wind generators and other power plants could receive tax credits when demand for electricity soars, which would allow Congress to continue providing incentives for the industry while addressing critics’ claims that the credits are too broadly distributed.
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.