PA Gamesa Worker on Tour Calling on Congress to Save Clean Energy Jobs

Area Leaders Join Touring Worker Facing Furloughs to Call for Renewal of the Production Tax Credit to Save 37,000 American Jobs, Ensure U.S. Can Compete in Global Clean Energy Industry

By Blue-Green Alliance

PITTSBURGH (September 25, 2012) Local labor and environmental leaders today joined a furloughed worker from wind turbine-maker Gamesa at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh to call on Congress to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit. The lack of action on the 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour tax incentive for wind energy — set to expire at the end of the year — was directly blamed by Gamesa for their decision to institute furloughs at two plants in Pennsylvania, including the plant of Ryan Motel, a United Steelworkers Local 2635 member who is currently on furlough.

“My job is at stake, but so are the jobs of many others,” said Motel. “If companies aren’t building wind farms because they’re not sure what their return on their investment will be, they aren’t buying our blades. My message to Congress is simple: end this uncertainty, save my job, and save the jobs of thousands of people like me across the country.”

Gamesa employs approximately 900 workers in the U.S., with 800 of those jobs in the state of Pennsylvania. Earlier this summer, 165 workers at two plants — in Fairless Hills in Bucks County and Ebensberg in Central Pennsylvania — were given notice that they were being furloughed due to lack of demand and the company attributed that directly to lack of certainty on the fate of the Production Tax Credit

Motel will join other workers in the wind industry in Ohio, Virginia and Michigan to call on Congressional leadership to bring the Production Tax Credit up for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the Production Tax Credit will allow the wind industry to grow from the current 75,000 jobs to 500,000 jobs by 2030. Extending the Production Tax Credit through 2016 would increase total wind-supported jobs to 95,000, with total wind investment growing to $16.3 billion. However, without an extension, America stands to lose 37,000 jobs.

“Clean energy incentives like the Production Tax Credit have created jobs, both here in Pennsylvania and around the country,” said Heather Sage, Vice-President of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture). “Workers in the wind industry have had good, family sustaining jobs – until now. Congress needs to step up, and save the thousands of jobs at stake by renewing the PTC.”

The tax incentive is moving in the U.S. Senate, passing with bipartisan support from the Senate Finance Committee just prior to the beginning of the August recess, but it remains stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Congress needs to understand the importance of these jobs to America and the citizens of our states,” said Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner. “Without an extension, the Production Tax Credit expires at the end of the year; to save and create thousands of good jobs in Pennsylvania and around the country we need our members of Congress to push their Congressional leadership to call a vote on extending the Production Tax Credit. We’re here today to call for them to get this done as soon as possible to ensure these workers have jobs for the long-term.”

Wind turbines consist of 8,000 parts and 200 tons of steel. Since 2005, the domestic content in American wind turbines has grown from less than 25 percent domestic content to 60 percent in 2011.

The labor and environmental leaders argued the benefits of wind go beyond good jobs. “Renewal of the Production Tax Credit will mean cleaner air and better jobs in our region,” said Randy Francisco, the Pennsylvania Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club. “We can help facilitate a move to cleaner energy sources that are better for public health, American energy independence, and our economic and environmental future. This is a no-brainer and it’s time for Congress to get this done.”

“There are real jobs in Pennsylvania that are being threatened by this and it’s preventable if only Congress would do the right thing,” said Sylvia Wilson, Special Assistant to the President for the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) Local 400 and Secretary-Treasurer, Allegheny County Central Labor Council, who also serves as the President of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute. “Extending the Production Tax Credit would be good for our economy, our environment and for workers in Pennsylvania and around the country.”

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