Manufacturing roots run deep in Newton, which was once home to Maytag appliances. A few years ago, the Maytag plant closed, leaving some 3,000 people out of work and sending economic shockwaves through the town of 16,000.
Thankfully, however, a new manufacturing industry—wind power—soon came to town. The story of Newton, as told by TPI Composites CEO Steve Lockard, and how the PTC creates jobs in such American towns across the country, is the subject of the latest segment of WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s vehicle to highlight how wind works for America.
The wind power company that came to town after the Maytag plant closure was Lockard’s TPI Composites, which makes blades for wind turbines. Illustrating how the wind power industry tends to create manufacturing clusters near demand from the building of wind projects, another wind industry supply chain member—a tower producer—also came to town, employing still more people. There’s a reason such companies are coming to Iowa. The state has established a market for wind power, with 20 percent of its electricity coming from the affordable, clean energy source.
Such manufacturing success stories could be a thing of the past, however, if Congress doesn’t take action. The PTC, wind power’s primary policy driver, is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, and
the wind industry supply chain is already feeling the effects of the uncertainty, particularly given that turbine orders are placed months in advance.
“The good news about wind is it’s a U.S. manufacturing success story, and it’ll be a real shame if our Congress doesn’t urgently pass the Production Tax Credit and allow us to keep this momentum going,” Lockard says in the video. “The jobs that we have are at serious risk.”
Lockard, in fact, says that rather than talk about the risk caused by the lack of a PTC extension, his company would much rather be making plans to build “one or two plants like this in other towns.” Those sorts of plans could be set in motion with an extension by Congress.
“We are fighting today to save jobs in towns like Newton and build new plants in other towns across America,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “Time is of the essence. Until Congress’s job is done, we will keep calling on each of its Members and leaders to do what’s right for America and extend the PTC as soon as possible—so that the wind industry can maintain the jobs it has already provided for Americans and get to work creating still more jobs.”
WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.