Tuesday, September 11, 2012

(BN) Average U.S. Wind Farm Creates 1,079 Jobs, Report Finds

Planning, building and operating a typical utility-scale wind farm creates 1,079 jobs over its lifetime, an industry that's supported in part by a U.S. tax credit, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

A 250-megawatt project generates 522 construction jobs, 432 positions in manufacturing, 80 for planning and development, 18 sales slots and 27 for operations, the New York-based environmental group said in a report today.

If Congress fails to extend the production tax credit, a federal incentive that's scheduled to expire Dec. 31, that job creation will be threatened, the group said. The wind industry currently employs about 75,000 U.S. workers.

Extending the credit will "level the playing field" for wind, making it more competitive with the "heavily subsidized" fossil-fuels industry, Cai Steger, a policy advocate for the group and co-author of the report, said on a conference call today.

"Every time a wind farm gets built, American jobs are created," he said in an e-mailed statement. The research shows "what the PTC has done for the wind industry -- and why it's essential that it is extended."

'Potential Layoffs'

New wind-farm development has slowed in the U.S. ahead of the expiration date, according to Scott Viciana, a vice president at Ventower Industries LLC.

"There has been a definite pullback of development in the U.S.," Viciana said on the call. "With the expiration, we will be faced with some potential layoffs. It keeps us up at night." The Monroe, Michigan-based manufacturer of towers for wind turbines employs about 55 people.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS), the world's biggest maker of wind turbines, expects shipments to decline next year and said Aug. 22 it's cutting 1,400 jobs worldwide. That's in addition to the 2,335 positions it eliminated in January. The company is considering firing 1,600 U.S. workers, a decision it says hinges largely on whether the PTC is extended.

President Barack Obama supports extending the incentive, which gives producers a tax credit of 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, opposes it.

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