Colorado-based wind turbine company announces potential layoffs
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Uncertainty surrounding tax credits for wind energy production is already having an impact, as Vestas Wind Systems announced that it will cut jobs at its factory in Pueblo, Colorado.
Congress has been dithering over an extension of the wind production tax credits for months, with renewable energy as a chip in the current ideological poker game in Washington, D.C.
Wind production tax credits have helped the industry gain a foothold in the past few years, and have been used successfully in other countries to spur renewable energy growth. But the influential fossil fuel lobby — not to mention partisan budget battles — in the U.S. have hampered efforts to renew the tax credit.
Colorado Sens. Udall and Bennet, both Democrats, have been leading advocates for an extension. Wind energy has become an important factor in Colorado’s energy and employment equation, generating the third highest percentage of power from wind of any state in the nation. The state is home to several major wind energy developers and wind turbine manufacturing facilities, employing upwards of 6,000 workers statewide.
Nationally, expiration of the wind production tax credit could cost as many as 37,000 jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
“Congress has put off a clean up or down vote on the wind PTC extension for months, and now Colorado’s economy is paying the price,” Bennet said. “Extending the wind PTC must be a top priority for Congress. We should vote on an extension of the tax credit immediately when Congress resumes session. It has bipartisan support, it is an economic driver throughout the country and Colorado workers are counting on us to get it across the finish line.”
Bennet led eight of the nine members of the Colorado Congressional delegation in a bipartisan letter calling for extension of the tax credit and has introduced two bipartisan amendments with Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS), cosponsored by Senator Mark Udall, to extend the PTC.
He has also partnered with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Udall to introduce the American Energy and Job Promotion Act, a bipartisan bill to extend the PTC for wind and several other renewable energy technologies. Earlier this month, he successfully led a bipartisan group of senators urging the Senate Finance Committee to include an extension of the PTC in a tax extenders bill the committee was considering.
Udall said Vestas’s decision to lay off workers is “disconcerting” and underlines the real-life consequences of congressional inaction on extending the wind Production Tax Credit.
“For months I have been calling on Congress to reauthorize the wind Production Tax Credit, which provides critical support to keep wind manufacturing jobs in Colorado and the United States,” Udall said. “Vestas’s announcement today of its decision to lay off workers in Pueblo shows the real-life effect of Congress’s refusal to pass the wind PTC as soon as possible. Our decision to wait until the fall when we knew this was a problem places not only good-paying jobs at risk, but also slows our nation’s progress toward true energy independence. We should not let partisanship undercut the U.S. wind manufacturing industry and our Colorado communities.”
Udall has been one of the key congressional leaders urging renewal of the wind Production Tax Credit, including delivering 15 speeches on the Senate floor, where colleagues from both sides of the aisle also joined him to show their support.
Filed under: energy, Environment, renewable energy Tagged: | American Wind Energy Association, Colorado, Congress, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, renewable energy, Vestas, wind power, wind production tax credit