Wind Power Group on Layoffs:
by Emily Behlmann
Congress needs to act to prevent further layoffs in the wind industry, says the CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, a wind-power advocacy group.
In a news release Wednesday, the association places the blame for recently announced job cuts on the uncertain future of the federal wind production tax credit, which is due to expire at the end of 2012.
Siemens AG announced Tuesday a plan to cut 615 wind-power jobs in the United States, including 146 at a wind turbine nacelle plant in Hutchinson. According to the Hutchinson News, work is also coming to an end for 110 temporary contract employees in Hutchinson.
The association also cites wind tower maker Katana Summit's plan to close plants in Nebraska and Washington, and wind blade manufacturer Molded Fiber Glass's intention to lay off 92 workers in Aberdeen, S.D.
Siemens cited uncertainty over the production tax credit as one reason for its planned layoffs. The credit helps developers raise private capital to complete wind-energy projects, and advocates say project development has nearly ground to a halt because of the pending expiration.
Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, called the layoffs a "direct result" of policy uncertainty and congressional gridlock.
However, a Siemens statement said other factors also contributed to a "significant drop in new orders" for wind turbines as well. Low natural gas prices are prompting a shift toward natural gas power, Siemens says, and the recession continues to slow overall demand for energy.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and some of the state's congressional leaders have pushed for renewal of the production tax credit. However, Rep. Mike Pompeo of Wichita has called for Washington to bring to an end to it all other energy tax credits, with the view that various forms of energy should compete without subsidies.
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