WIND WORRIES: Wind Energy Tax Credits To Expire

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The Iowa Wind Energy Association says we should expect more layoffs if Congress doesn’t act soon.  Siemens Wind Power is cutting more than 400 jobs in Fort Madison over the uncertainty of the Production Tax Credits.  They will expire at the end of the year.

“We bet hard on wind energy and obviously it`s tenuous now,” says Newton Mayor Chaz Allen.

Newton is home to two major wind energy companies.  Allen says there’s no sign of trouble at the wind blade or tower manufacturers TPI and Trinity. 

“People are still going to work.  They`re still looking for people to work there so we`re pretty confident right now, but that could change anytime,” says Allen.

It has in other parts of Iowa and the country where there is growing concern over the renewal of the federal wind energy tax credits. 

“It puts the wind industry in a state of flux because people don`t know what`s going to happen,” says Kathy Law, president of Iowa`s Wind Energy Association.  Developing a wind farm can take years and officials say heading into 2013, there are no projects in the works in Iowa.

“It could set back the industry for at least a year or more because people are already making  plans in case the credits do expire,” says Law.

That’s what’s happened at Siemens.  The wind turbine manufacturer is laying off more than 1,000 people or about half of its U.S. workforce.

“In the past when they`ve been set to expire, an extension has gone through and I think it`s just a greater uncertainty this time that it may not go through and be extended,” says Law.

“This is one time where the layoffs haven`t affected us.  We`ve got a history of the past seven years of different things happening and we`ve been on the negative side.  This time we`re on the positive side so we`ll just hope for the best,” says Allen.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley is the father of the wind energy tax credits.  The Republican doesn’t expect any extension to clear the Senate until after the November election. 

In the U.S. House, Leonard Boswell is taking steps to force action on the tax credit.  Today, Boswell added an extension of the credit to the Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act.  If approved the amendment would extend the wind energy credit through 2016.  Boswell says the House could debate the measure by the end of the week.