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Funding & Incentives

Union calls for P.T.C. tax extension after Gamesa layoffs

With the announcement that Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa is laying off 165 workers in two of their American plants, the United Steelworkers union has joined the voices of those calling for an extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind projects in the United States.

According to, 92 workers at the Fairless Hills plant and 73 at Ebensburg - both in Pennsylvania – will find themselves out of a job in two months.

Gamesa has announced that they are temporarily laying off workers at the plants, which produce nacelles and rotor blades, due to weak domestic demand and few project orders in the pipeline for 2013.

The lukewarm wind energy business environment has been blamed partly on the uncertainties around the P.T.C.'s extension.

The Production Tax Credit, which expires at the end of this year, gives wind farm developers a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for electricity produced.

"The P.T.C. is vital to creating a strong U.S. renewables market with clean energy manufacturing jobs," said Leo W. Gerard, U.S.W. International president in a statement.

"Without it, there is little incentive for existing U.S. wind manufacturers to keep doing business here. Nor is there any incentive for other wind manufacturers to invest in the domestic wind sector," he added.

The P.T.C. is credited with establishing the wind market in the United States 20 years ago, the union said in a statement. They pointed out that when it was allowed to expire in 1999, 2001 and 2003, the U.S. wind market stalled and jobs were lost.

The union says congress must also renew the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit which expired in December. This credit provided incentives for domestic manufacturers to make component parts for clean energy applications such as wind and solar.

"Without policies like the P.T.C. and [the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit], the United States will continue to fall behind countries like China and Germany, who are investing significantly into these sectors and have comprehensive policies to ensure their growth," said Tom Conway, U.S.W. International vice president.

United Steelworkers represents a total of 850,000 workers in the United States and Canada.

Just last month, a group of United States representatives led by South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem urged the House of Representatives to extend the P.T.C. (see related story) and major Fortune 100 companies Microsoft and Sprint sent a letter to congress with the same demand.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, more than 400 wind manufacturing facilities in 43 states are facing imminent risks of layoffs and shutdowns for lack of orders. (Katrice R. Jalbuena)

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