Furloughed Wind Industry Worker Touring East Coast and Midwest, Local Leaders Call on Leader Cantor to Save Jobs

Local labor and environmental leaders today joined a furloughed worker from wind turbine-maker Gamesa at the House Briefing Room in Richmond to call on House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit.

September 28, 2012

Area Leaders Join Touring Worker Facing Furloughs to Call for Renewal of the Production Tax Credit to Save 37,000 American Jobs, Ensure U.S. Can Compete in Global Clean Energy Industry

RICHMOND, Va. (September 28, 2012) Local labor and environmental leaders today joined a furloughed worker from wind turbine-maker Gamesa at the House Briefing Room on the Lobby Level of the General Assembly Building in Richmond to call on House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit. The lack of action on the 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour tax incentive for wind energy — set to expire at the end of the year — was directly blamed by Gamesa for its decision to institute furloughs at two plants in Pennsylvania, including the plant of Ryan Motel, a United Steelworkers Local 2635 member who is currently on furlough.

“My job is at stake, but so are the jobs of many others,” said Motel. “If companies aren’t building wind farms because they’re not sure what their return on their investment will be, they aren’t buying our blades. My message to Congress is simple: end this uncertainty, save my job, and save the jobs of thousands of people like me across the country.”

Since this summer, more than 2,000 workers in the wind industry have been laid-off or furloughed and companies have cited the lack of certainty on the tax incentive as a main cause of them. Renewing the Production Tax Credit will put people back to work and protect the jobs of 37,000 more workers who stand to lose their jobs if it is not renewed. Gamesa employs approximately 900 workers in the U.S., with 800 of those jobs in the state of Pennsylvania.

Motel joins other workers in the wind industry in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan to call on Cantor, Speaker Boehner and other members of Congress to bring the Production Tax Credit up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Clean energy incentives like the Production Tax Credit have created jobs around the country,” said Judy Sibley, IUE-CWA Local 8216. “Workers in the wind industry have had good, family sustaining jobs – until now. Congress needs to step up, and save the thousands of jobs at stake by renewing the PTC.”

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the Production Tax Credit will allow the wind industry to grow from the current 75,000 jobs to 500,000 jobs by 2030. Extending the Production Tax Credit through 2016 would increase total wind-supported jobs to 95,000, with total wind investment growing to $16.3 billion. However, without an extension, America stands to lose 37,000 jobs.

“Congress needs to understand the importance of these jobs to America,” said Matt Sinclair, CWA Local 2201. “Without an extension, the Production Tax Credit expires at the end of the year; to save and create good jobs in Virginia and around the country we need our members of Congress to push their Congressional leadership to call a vote on extending the Production Tax Credit. We’re here today to call for them to get this done as soon as possible to ensure these workers have jobs for the long-term.”

The tax incentive is moving in the U.S. Senate, passing with bipartisan support from the Senate Finance Committee just prior to the beginning of the August recess, but it remains stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Wind turbines consist of 8,000 parts and 200 tons of steel. Since 2005, the domestic content in American wind turbines has grown from less than 25 percent domestic content to 60 percent in 2011.

The labor and environmental leaders argued the benefits of wind go beyond good jobs. “Renewal of the Production Tax Credit will mean cleaner air and better jobs in our region,” said Glen Besa, Chapter Director, Virginia Chapter Sierra Club. “We can help facilitate a move to cleaner energy sources that are better for public health, American energy independence, and our economic and environmental future. It’s time for Congress to get this done.”

“Until they act, we’re going to continue to bring this message to leaders in Congress to push leadership to pass the Production Tax Credit,” said Michael Williams, Senior Policy and Legislative Advocate, BlueGreen Alliance. “We need to save and create thousands of good jobs. It’s a no-brainer.”