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Limbo for Madison Wind-Energy Companies

PHOTO: wind turbines. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
PHOTO: wind turbines. Photo credit: Deborah Smith
July 23, 2012

MADISON, Wis. - The waiting game is not healthy for manufacturers in the wind-energy industry. That's the gist of a plea of urgency from the wind sector, as the production tax credit (PTC) is set to expire at the end of the year. It's a benefit for new wind-energy production that trickles down to manufacturers and related industries in Wisconsin - such as WES Engineering, Madison, a company specializing in wind projects and feasibility studies.

Company president Wes Slaymaker says the "not knowing" has already affected local jobs.

"Once the uncertainty of the PTC became evident, we saw quite a drop in work. We've had to lose one employee, and some of the part-time people are not getting too many hours in. We're a small business - that's 20 percent of our staff."

Wisconsin is home to at least 2,000 jobs connected to the wind-energy industry, according to the American Wind Energy Association. A temporary extension of the production tax credit has bipartisan support, yet there also are calls to let it expire.

Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group Clean Energy Program, says indecision has put the industry in a precarious situation.

"Causing this kind of turmoil and uncertainty in a market is completely unnecessary. There have been really no new orders for wind, and that is going to have a significant impact on jobs."

She says layoffs are happening at manufacturing facilities across the country.

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