American Wind Energy Association urges Congress to extend wind credit

The American Wind Energy Association said Wednesday that it has asked Congress to include an extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit in any legislation related to avoiding the fiscal cliff.

The industry association contends half the jobs in the wind industry are at risk if the Production Tax Credit expires Dec. 31.

With the exception of Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, Colorado’s congressional delegation has voiced repeated support for renewal of the incentive over the past year. Gov. John Hickenlooper also has backed an extension of the tax credit.

If Congress doesn’t act this month, 37,000 jobs could be lost by the first quarter of 2013, according to a study by Navigant Consulting.

Congress, the association said, should pass the extension of the measure that cleared the Senate Finance Committee on a 19-5 vote Aug. 2. The measure would allow any project that starts next year to qualify for the credit. A wind farm takes 18 to 24 months to build.

“It’s down to the wire on wind, and Congress has a choice,´ said Rob Gramlich, the group’s senior vice president for public policy. “If they do nothing, the wind industry will fall over its own fiscal cliff and America will lose most of its wind installations next year.”

“If we lose America’s 500 wind-energy factories now, they may never return,” Gramlich added.

Danish wind turbine maker Vestas has laid off about 300 employees in its Windsor and Brighton factories this year. Vestas slashed its Colorado workforce from more than 1,700 to about 1,200 people this year.

Vestas blamed the job cuts on a slowdown in the U.S. wind industry, brought on by uncertainty about the renewal of the wind tax credit.

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