Furloughed Wind Worker, Local Leaders Call on Congressman Tiberi to Save Jobs

Local labor and environmental leaders today joined a furloughed worker from wind turbine-maker Gamesa to call on Congress to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit at the Ohio Statehouse Ladies Gallery in Columbus.

September 25, 2012

Area Leaders Join Touring Worker on Furlough 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

COLUMBUS, Ohio (September 25, 2012) Local labor and environmental leaders today joined a furloughed worker from wind turbine-maker Gamesa to call on Congress to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit at the Ohio Statehouse Ladies Gallery in Columbus. 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 their 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.”

Gamesa employs approximately 900 workers in the U.S., with 800 of those jobs in the state of Pennsylvania. Earlier this summer, 165 workers at two plants were given notice that they were being furloughed due to lack of demand and the company attributed that directly to lack of certainty on the fate of the Production Tax Credit. An extension of 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. Motel will join other workers in the wind industry in Ohio, Virginia and Michigan to call on Congressional leadership to bring the Production Tax Credit up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the Production Tax Credit will allow the wind industry to grow from the current 75,000 jobs and continue toward supporting 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.

“Clean energy tax incentives like the Production Tax Credit have created jobs, around the country and right here,” said Lee Geisse, a member of USW Local 1046 in Louisville, Ohio. “The families of these wind workers need them on the job, not on the sideline. And, Congress can secure thousands of jobs simply by renewing this job-creating tax incentive but it won’t happen unless leaders like Congressman Pat Tiberi step up and force a vote in the House.”

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.

“Congress needs to understand the importance of these jobs to America and the citizens of our states,” Tracy Sabetta, the Ohio Outreach Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). “Without an extension, the Production Tax Credit expires at the end of the year; to save and create thousands of good jobs in Ohio and around the country, we need our members of Congress to push leadership to get a vote on extending the Production Tax Credit. We’re here today to call for them to get this thing done as soon as possible to ensure these workers have jobs for the long-term.”

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, supporting the jobs of 75,000 workers in the wind industry around the country.

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 Neil Waggoner, Associate Organizing Representative for the 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. This is a no-brainer and it’s time for Congress to get this done.”