WASHINGTON, DC (December 6, 2012) – In the final days before the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy expires this month, industry workers from Pennsylvania and Indiana will travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers about the importance of the PTC to their own jobs and to the jobs of thousands of others across the country.
The PTC for wind, a 2.2 cent per kilowatt tax credit for the production of electricity from utility scale wind turbines for the first ten years of production, is vitally important to people like Donn Pendergrass, USW LU 1191 President, ATI Casting Services, Indiana; Henry Redding, USW LU 7343 President, SKF Industries, Pennsylvania; Bradley George Molinick, Quality Technician, Gamesa, Pennsylvania; and Edward John Bernat, Production Worker, Gamesa, Pennsylvania. All four wind industry workers will meet with Senators and members of Congress this week.
Failure to renew the PTC has already affected workers across the country like Ed Bernat who works at Gamesa in Ebensburg, PA. At the beginning of last year, 194 employees worked at the Ebensburg facility. Soon the facility will be down to 24 employees. Bernat has seen people from all walks of life affected by the layoffs including older workers not quite ready for retirement, to younger ones who have recently purchased a house and now are out of work.
“There’s a lot at stake for a lot of people, not only those people who work at Gamesa, but the people the company does business with,” said Bernat. “A whole lot of people are connected to this company.”
The PTC for wind energy has played a significant role in the development of an American industry that employs thousands of workers. When the credit is consistently available for a period of several years, the industry sees considerable growth. However, when the credit is allowed to expire, the industry declines and workers are laid off.
“It’s affecting so many jobs in the Cambria county area, it has a significant trickle-down effect for people spending money in the community, going out and spending money on groceries and gifts for Christmas,” said Molinick who works at the Gamesa Ebensburg facility. “It’s something Congress really has to get going on.”
At the height of production at ATI Casting Services, where Donn Pendergrass represents workers as union president, the company was making three castings per day. Today, it’s not making any castings for wind turbines. Just 12 years ago, the company employed over 500 workers, but today employs less than 100. The biggest round of layoffs by the company affected 350 people. The reach of the layoffs went beyond the workers and their immediate families.
“I’ve seen a lot of plant shutdowns,” said Pendergrass. “The layoffs devastated LaPorte and the community.”
When Henry Redding’s employer, SKF Industries in Pennsylvania, began manufacturing bearings for wind turbines, the company attracted business and investments from major wind energy companies like General Electric, Vestas, and Gamesa. Now the work has disappeared.
“We were swamped six years ago. Now, no one is buying,” said Redding.
Like the PTC, the Investment Tax Credit for offshore wind is necessary to grow the burgeoning industry. Currently there are no operating facilities, however, many projects are in advanced phases. Based on the successes in Europe, an American offshore wind industry could see 43,000 permanent jobs through 54 GW of capacity.