Colorado’s wind energy industry’s fate hinges on federal tax credit

Source: By Mark Jaffe, The Denver Post • Posted: Monday, December 31, 2012

Colorado political and business leaders made a big push to develop a wind-turbine industry, which in the space of about six years created more than 5,000 jobs.

Now, that is in jeopardy as the federal wind-production tax credit — equal to 2.2 cents for each kilowatt-hour that a wind farm produces — is set to expire at the end of this year.

Without the credit, the U.S. wind-turbine market is projected to contract up to 90 percent and about half of the 75,000 jobs in the industry may be lost, according to Navigant Consulting.

“The tax credit is critical,” said Tracee Bentley, associate director of the Colorado Energy Office. “We have one of the most highly trained workforces in wind production, and we want to se those jobs stay in Colorado.”

Vestas Wind Systems, the Danish maker of wind turbines, built four factories in Colorado and has lost 500 of its initial 1,700 employees.

Also, companies such as Hexcel and Bach Composite have built factories in the state to supply Vestas

“As we have seen numerous times, when the credit is allowed to lapse, our wind-energy industry suffers,” said Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall.

” A broad bipartisan coalition supports this tax credit,” he said, “and has already teed it up as part of a tax bill that is awaiting action on the Senate floor.