Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, which has opened several facilities in Colorado, has a blade plant in Windsor (population 18,644). Wind power has helped to breathe new life into American manufacturing, and Windsor is a prime example of how the clean, affordable energy technology has revitalized American towns. The community is featured on WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) vehicle to highlight how wind works for America.
As the video segment depicts, after Vestas came to town a few years ago, new neighborhoods started to sprout up and new shops and other businesses opened, creating even more jobs. The unemployment rate dropped, reports one town official in the segment, and the town was able to build a new fire station.
“The factory’s been great for the area,” says a plant worker featured in the video. “It’s brought up morale, it’s brought jobs in. It’s been absolutely wonderful.”
Wind power also has become known for not just providing any job but well-paying jobs, and that’s certainly been the case in Windsor.
“When I got hired, I felt it was a new opportunity for me to start a new career—not just have a job but actually progress,” says another worker.
The contrast of old and new is highly visible in another way in the town. Freight rail is a central part of the history of Windsor–in the town’s early days, freight trains carried farm products from and through the area. Today rail still plays a big part in the city’s economy, but there’s a new wrinkle to that story: wind power. Vestas uses those historic rail lines—modes of transportation emblematic of the Industrial Age—to ship the high-tech blades on to their destinations to generate clean energy. (This particular WindTV episode, in fact, was produced by the American Association of Railroads.)
But in spite of wind power being good for America, question marks loom for the industry. The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), wind power’s primary policy driver, is set to expire at the end of the year, and already the industry’s supply chain is feeling the effects of the uncertainty.
A recent study found that extending the PTC will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration will kill 37,000 jobs. Wind powers as many as 6,000 Colorado jobs and 20 wind power manufacturing facilities across the state. Colorado wind farms, meanwhile, provide a second cash crop to the state’s farmers and a vital source of support for rural communities in the form of approximately $5.4 million a year in land lease payments and more than $10 million in annual property tax payments.
“Windsor, Colorado, is a prime example of how wind power serves as a catalyst of economic activity and revives small-town America,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The time is now for Congress to act and extend the PTC so that the wind energy industry can maintain the job base it has already built and create even more jobs in towns large and small across America.”
WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at http://www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.
To hear more about Vestas and Windsor, and how wind power works for America, go to WindTV.
A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 79 cosponsors, including 18 Republicans, and has received the endorsement of a broad coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Western Governors’ Association, while a Senate bill to extend it was introduced March 15 by seven Senators, including three Republicans. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.
By Carl Levesque, AWEA Editor & Publications Manager, www.awea.org/blog