Wind industry layoffs continue with tax credit stalled

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Vestas secured a deal for 166 new wind turbines, the company reported Monday.

Vestas secured a deal for 166 new wind turbines, the company reported Monday.

DENVER – Vestas Wind Systems announced Tuesday that it’s laying off 30 workers at its plant in Brighton, which comes a week after the company cut 90 jobs at its plant in Pueblo and again underlines the importance of a tax credit for wind energy producers that’s set to expire at the end of the year.

Congress has failed to act on the credit, which has become an issue on the presidential campaign trail after Republican Mitt Romney stated that he opposes extending the wind energy Production Tax Credit.

In visits to the state earlier this month, President Barack Obama went after Romney on the issue and argued that 37,000 jobs across the nation depend in large part on renewing the PTC.

On Tuesday, just as the Vestas layoffs were being announced, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was touring Walker Component Group’s manufacturing facility in north Denver. The facility manufactures cables that Vesta uses to make its wind turbines and could be impacted itself by a downturn in the wind industry.

“We are seeing firsthand how Congress’ failure to act on an extension of the wind PTC is killing jobs right here in Colorado,” Bennet said.

“An extension will support this vital industry at a crucial point in its development and save thousands of jobs in Colorado and tens of thousands across the rest of the country. Congress must get its act together and extend the PTC immediately when it resumes session.”

Eight of Colorado’s nine members of Congress support extending the wind energy PTC, with Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, being the lone exception.

Romney and other opponents argue that the industry needs to be able to stand on its own, without federal subsidies supporting it.

Supporters actually agree with that, noting that all industries should be weaned off federal subsidies — eventually. They argue that subsidies are important when an industry is in its relative infancy, as wind and other new energy markets still are.