Wind Farm: Steelworkers call for extension of ‘vital’ PTC

The United Steelworkers (USW) union said it was disappointed by Gamesa’s announcement that it will furlough 165 workers at its wind turbine nacelle and rotor blade plants in Fairless Hills and Ebensburg, Pa., and urged Congress to extend the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).

“The PTC is vital to creating a strong U.S. renewables market with clean energy manufacturing jobs,” said Leo W. Gerard, USW International President. “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.”

Added the organization in a news release, "The PTC helped to establish the wind energy market in the United States 20 years ago. However, history has shown that when it has been allowed to expire, as it did in 1999, 2001 and 2003, the U.S. wind market stalls and jobs are lost. With no orders for U.S. wind manufacturers for 2013, this industry and its workers are facing yet another bust cycle."

“Long-term extension of the PTC is absolutely necessary to allow the U.S. wind sector the time it needs to grow, so it can compete with other clean energy sectors and other nations,” said Tom Conway, USW International Vice President.

The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale turbines. It is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it first. A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that extending the Production Tax Credit will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration would kill 37,000 jobs within a year.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 105 cosponsors, including 24 Republicans, while a similar Senate bill is cosponsored by seven Senators, including three Republicans. PTC extension efforts have 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. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Governors Association, and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S. A PTC extension has been endorsed by a number of newspapers across the country, including the Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, the Denver Post, the Daily Oklahoman, and the Toledo Blade.

Tom Gray,