Concern is increasingly growing in all quarters over the potential expiry of vital tax breaks for the wind sector at the end of this year.
That concern has now pushed the Republican governors of Iowa and Kansas—Terry Brandstad and Sam Brownback—to join the Democratic governors John Hickenlooper (Colorado) and John Kitzhaber (Oregon) in trying to kick Congress into action.
“It’s critical, it’s happening and it needs this extension,” said Brownback, noting that wind energy was a major force helping the economy in Kansas.
They’re fighting against the previously-stated position of the Republican-led House of Representatives, which has ruled out possibilities of extending the rebates on the claim that the national deficit cannot tolerate this additional expense.
As we edge nearer to the formal expiry, the wind sector has already begun to show symptoms of damage. Cedar Rapids, Iowa wind company, Clipper Windpower, has dismissed 174 employees as of August. And Siemens (NYSE: SI) has let go of 400 workers in Fort Madison, Iowa, so far this year. Even Vestas Wind Systems (CPH: VWS) has announced it could lay off up to 1,600 workers in the U.S.
A bipartisan conference on Tuesday added some much-needed weight and urgency to earlier requests sent to congressional leaders by the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition. This group comprises governors from 23 states representing both parties, and Brandstad and Kitzhaber are chair and vice-chairman, respectively.
Really, given the fraught political tensions in recent years between the two parties, such bipartisanship is rare, and we’d love to see something good come out of this. Time, however, is running out.