Wind energy company Iberdrola lays off 25 in Portland

Source: Kacey Montoya • KOIN • Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012

The nation’s second largest developer of wind projects, Iberdrola Renewables Inc., laid off 50 workers this week, placing some of the blame on the federal government for the move.

“Poor economy, low energy prices and regulatory uncertainty are the three main reasons,” said Jan Johnson, communications director for the company.

Johnson said 25 of layoffs came from its Portland headquarters, mostly in Iberdrola’s growth department.

The wind industry has been scaling back on new projects because the wind energy production tax credit has not yet been extended for next year. Johnson alleges that if Congress passed a long term extension, renewable energy companies would be able to grow, and even add jobs to the workforce.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Barack Obama said, “Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.”

However, that may be on hold until the tax credit is extended.

“At this point, we don’t have a bill passed,” Johnson said.

Last year, Portland Mayor Sam Adams traveled to Spain, where Iberdrola is based, hoping to get a commitment the company would stay in Portland when its lease expires in the Pearl District Brewery Blocks in 2013.

Adams did not get a guarantee, but he has been working with the Portland Development Commission (PDC) to offer an incentive, such as a public subsidy, to keep the wind energy company here.

A PDC official would not elaborate on the details of the agreement, saying the final plan is still in the works.