(Note: Siemens Wind Power has updated its comments to better reflect its stance on government subsidies. Read their new statement here.)
By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog
OSAWATOMIE — A major beneficiary of green energy tax breaks says the wind power industry needs to move toward a subsidy-free future if it has any hope of survival.
Monika Wood, spokesperson for Siemens Wind Power, told Kansas Watchdog that Congress’ on-again-off-again relationship with the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit has created instability in the wind industry and played a significant role in workforce fluctuations at a number of the company’s manufacturing facilities.
“In the U.S., the wind industry still needs a longer-term approach to provide some stability, one that allows wind power to move toward a subsidy-free future,” Wood said. “Instead of the boom-and-bust nature of incentives such as the (energy production tax credit), the industry needs long-term policies and tax reform that will provide the certainty needed to spur effective investment and create jobs.”
In June Siemens rehired nearly all of the workers it laid off from its Hutchinson wind turbine manufacturing facility. The company also brought back workers at a similar plant in Fort Madison, Iowa. Last fall Siemens laid off nearly 250 workers in Kansas – 640 nationwide – after uncertainty about the tax credit’s renewal caused a slump in production orders.
The wind energy credit – which provides more than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour to producers who generate electricity from wind, biomass or other renewable sources – was granted a one-year lease on life in January, and is again set to expire at the end of this year.
While the tax credit’s seemingly temporary renewal has, for the moment, reinvigorated the Kansas wind industry, Wood said other factors played into the decision to rehire employees. She specifically pointed to project orders from countries like Canada, Brazil and Chile.
“Our orders, and thus our employment levels, vary with customer demand and market developments,” Wood said. “Customer demand is driven by many factors, including policy decisions, competitiveness of wind power with other forms of power generation, energy demand growth and transmission constraints.”
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