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Positive News from AWEA: “Layoffs mount in U.S. wind power manufacturing plants this week”

Unfortunately the [wind] industry has begun letting workers go up and down our American manufacturing supply chain…. Congress must [extend subsidies] now to give wind energy a stable business environment… to … save 37,000 American jobs by the first quarter of next year.”

    - Denise Bode (AWEA), Press Release, August 9, 2012

“He who lives by a legalized sword, will perish by a legalized sword.”

    - Ayn Rand, “The Moratorium on Brains II,” Ayn Rand Letter, 1971

The wind industry is imploding, and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is providing the details. Suffice it to say that there will be no Jay Leno at the next AWEA confab.

With accumulating layoffs, extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) is increasingly becoming too late. AWEA has been warming about 10,000 job losses by September 1, and now the number is 37,000 in the next seven or so months.

Wind companies are wising up to the fact that consumers don’t like their product. And who wants to bet their future on politicians with federal deficit reduction being the elephant in the room? If AWEA is to be believed, there will not be much of an industry to save in a matter of months.

Here are the latest layoff announcements, according to AWEA:

    • In Tulsa, Okla., DMI Industries announced 167 workers will be unemployed by November;
    • In West Fargo, N.D., DMI Industries said 216 jobs stand at risk;
    • In Little Rock, Ark., LM Wind Power announced job reductions that will impact 94 full-time employees and 140 temporary workers and contractors;
    • In Dallas, Tex., Trinity Structural Towers said it will shift reposition resources away from wind turbine tower manufacturing.

This follows earlier layoffs this year, again according to AWEA:

  • Wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa furloughed 165 of its Pennsylvania-based workers (July 5, Bloomberg)
  • Wind measurement technology manufacturer NRG Systems laid off 18 Vermont-based employees in May, and an additional 12 in July– the first time in 30 years the firm has had to make any layoffs (May 22, Windpower Monthly and July 18, Burlington Free Press)
  • Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas laid off 182 employees (January 12, Huffington Post)
  • Wind project developer Iberdrola Renewables laid off 50 U.S. employees, about half of whom were based in Oregon (January 25, North American Windpower)
  • Wind pattern analysis company Windlogics cut 10 of their Minnesota-based employees (July 2, Minnesota Public Radio)

The press release attempts to put a human face on the layoffs:

DMI welder Jim Leeds told a News OK reporter, “I was floored. It was a big shock … With the economy the way it is, you don’t know what’s going to happen, you hope for the best and unfortunately this is what happened to us.” ….

Jim Deedric … told West Fargo’s WDAY6 that DMI “has been a good company to work for and we appreciate what they have done for us.

But with a boom in consumer-preferred energies, talent from the retrenching wind companies has somewhere to go. And AWEA itself could help each of the victims of an industrial mirage by redirecting its HUGE (seven-figure) PTC lobbying kitty to help the displaced individuals. AWEA should feel partial responsibility for creating America’s largest (shrinking) artificial industry.

It is good, not bad, that the wind industry is working itself out of its misery. Congress should not throw good taxpayer dollars after bad. And for virtually all of the displaced talent, there are greener fields on the free-market side of the hill. Let’s get there sooner rather than later

Appendix: AWEA Press Release

Four major manufacturers announce layoffs or dramatic changes to their businesses as Production Tax Credit for wind nears its expiration

WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 9, 2012 – Layoffs are increasing this week in the U.S. wind industry manufacturing sector in the absence of a policy signal only Congress can provide: extension of the Production Tax Credit that has been the basis for rapid growth of U.S. jobs and manufacturing since 2005.

Layoffs announced this week include:

  • In Tulsa, Okla., DMI Industries announced 167 workers will be unemployed by November;
  • In West Fargo, N.D., DMI Industries said 216 jobs stand at risk;
  • In Little Rock, Ark., LM Wind Power announced job reductions that will impact 94 full-time employees and 140 temporary workers and contractors;
  • In Dallas, Tex., Trinity Structural Towers said it will shift reposition resources away from wind turbine tower manufacturing.

In response to the news that the DMI Industries plant in Tulsa would likely be closing and laying off all its workers, DMI welder Jim Leeds told a News OK reporter, “I was floored. It was a big shock … With the economy the way it is, you don’t know what’s going to happen, you hope for the best and unfortunately this is what happened to us.” On working from now until his last day in November, Mr. Leeds said, “We’ll fulfill the work we have and then try to look to the future somehow.”

Jim Deedric has worked in DMI’s West Fargo facility for 14 years and told West Fargo’s WDAY6 that DMI “has been a good company to work for and we appreciate what they have done for us … It’s an unknown and we don’t know what’s going to happen.”

This week’s layoffs add to a longer list that have already happened this year. Those include:

  • Wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa furloughed 165 of its Pennsylvania-based workers (July 5, Bloomberg)
  • Wind measurement technology manufacturer NRG Systems laid off 18 Vermont-based employees in May, and an additional 12 in July– the first time in 30 years the firm has had to make any layoffs (May 22, Windpower Monthly and July 18, Burlington Free Press)
  • Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas laid off 182 employees (January 12, Huffington Post)
  • Wind project developer Iberdrola Renewables laid off 50 U.S. employees, about half of whom were based in Oregon (January 25, North American Windpower)
  • Wind pattern analysis company Windlogics cut 10 of their Minnesota-based employees (July 2, Minnesota Public Radio)

The four companies, all major wind component manufacturers, laying off employees this week “represent what is happening and will continue to happen across the country in the U.S. wind industry if these businesses are not provided the policy certainty they need to continue to invest in America and its workers,” said American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode.

“I’m deeply distressed that our wind industry colleagues are facing furloughs and layoffs due to lack of stable tax policy. Unfortunately the industry has begun letting workers go up and down our American manufacturing supply chain, which the industry has so proudly built up in support of the U.S. economy and made-in-the-USA manufacturing. Congress must act now to give wind energy a stable business environment to keep building this new industry and save 37,000 American jobs by the first quarter of next year,” Bode said.

7 comments

1 Otter { 08.20.12 at 4:04 am }

`due to a lack of stable TAX policy.`

I really want to swear at that line.

I`m in Southern Ontario. Our local newspaper has an article about massive windfarms coming to MY neighborhood, literally. The closest towers would be visible over the trees behind our property.

And, just yesterday, I encountered an entire crew of bird watchers, looking for Arctic shore birds, which are migrating thru here…

We`re adding our voices to the Opposition to these wind towers.

2 rbradley { 08.20.12 at 7:56 am }

Yes, Otter, ‘tax stability’ is sort of like ‘nonpolitical government’.

Political capitalism is risky business for the rent-seekers.

3 Ed Reid { 08.20.12 at 9:48 am }

What is unstable about US tax policy?

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
Ronald Reagan

That hasn’t changed in 30 years. ;-)

4 Tom Tanton { 08.20.12 at 10:03 am }

I’m all for stable and certain tax policy for the wind industry. What’s so uncertain about “no more PTC now or ever”?

5 Craig { 08.21.12 at 6:12 am }

Wind may still be profitable, here in Ontario we are being sued by a single company for 3 billion dollars for cancelling offshore wind farms. That single company, Trillium Wind has never built or installed a single turbine , or any other project, nor has it ever generated a single watt of energy, it has no employees, has no “corporation” except one guy. A one man band with no instuments, is suing all 13 million of us for $175 a person. Profitable indeed.

6 rbradley { 08.21.12 at 8:39 pm }

Could add 1,600 more according to BusinessWeek: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-08-20/energy-week-ahead-vestas-may-offer-plan-for-colorado-job-cuts

“Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS), the world’s biggest wind-turbine maker, is likely to give details this week of its plan to cut as many as 1,600 jobs mainly in Colorado amid a standoff in Congress over a tax break for the industry.”

7 Green Energy Proving Venture Capitalists are Smarter Than Government Bureaucrats. « AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS ADDICT { 10.01.12 at 6:46 pm }

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