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Wind Production Layoffs Looming in Pennsylvania

PHOTO: Wind turbine. Photo credit: Deborah Smith

PHOTO: Wind turbine. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
August 21, 2012

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A standstill in Congress is taking the wind out of the wind turbine industry. The Production Tax Credit for wind and other renewable resources expires in about four months, unless it's renewed.

The uncertainty is affecting local businesses like Windkits in Allentown. CEO Eric Schwartz says the credit brings in private money, and he points out that it's not a handout, or a grant, since a track record has to be established before receiving the credit.

"There's a significant amount of investment, private investment. You have to hire people, they have to make product, they have to install product, and you're creating jobs, you're creating work, in order to even get the tax credit."

There is a bipartisan proposal in Congress to temporarily extend the credit. Those calling for it to expire cite budget concerns.

Dave Rosenberg, vice president for communications at wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa, says they're laying off 165 people this month at their plants in Pennsylvania, because there's no decision on the credit. He points out, though, that it isn't too late to keep the PTC in place, and predicts it would save thousands of U.S. jobs.

"The cycle time for a wind project is 12 to 18 months, and by passing the PTC now and not waiting until the lame duck (Congress), we can still have a very positive impact on 2013 orders."

Wind developers say the PTC is no different than tax credits offered to other industries, and has spurred growth and technology, and helped reduce the cost of wind energy.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - PA