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WindTV: Wind power breathes new life into small Colorado town

WindTV: Wind power breathes new life into small Colorado town

PTC uncertainty threatening job-generating industry

One of the most striking aspects of the wind power industry is how it blends 21st-century technology with old-school economic engines like manufacturing. That juxtaposition is nowhere more apparent than in the small town of Windsor, Colo.

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, which has opened several facilities in Colorado, has a blade plant in Windsor (population 18,644). Wind power has helped to breathe new life into American manufacturing, and Windsor is a prime example of how the clean, affordable energy technology has revitalized American towns. The community is featured on WindTV, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) vehicle to highlight how wind works for America.

As the video segment depicts, after Vestas came to town a few years ago, new neighborhoods started to sprout up and new shops and other businesses opened, creating even more jobs. The unemployment rate dropped, reports one town official in the segment, and the town was able to build a new fire station.

“The factory’s been great for the area,” says a plant worker featured in the video. “It’s brought up morale, it’s brought jobs in. It’s been absolutely wonderful.”

Wind power also has become known for not just providing any job but well-paying jobs, and that’s certainly been the case in Windsor.

“When I got hired, I felt it was a new opportunity for me to start a new career—not just have a job but actually progress,” says another worker.

The contrast of old and new is highly visible in another way in the town. Freight rail is a central part of the history of Windsor–in the town's early days, freight trains carried farm products from and through the area. Today rail still plays a big part in the city’s economy, but there’s a new wrinkle to that story: wind power. Vestas uses those historic rail lines—modes of transportation emblematic of the Industrial Age—to ship the high-tech blades on to their destinations to generate clean energy. (This particular WindTV episode, in fact, was produced by the American Association of Railroads.)

But in spite of wind power being good for America, question marks loom for the industry. The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), wind power’s primary policy driver, is set to expire at the end of the year, and already the industry’s supply chain is feeling the effects of the uncertainty.

A recent study found that extending the PTC will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration will kill 37,000 jobs. Wind powers as many as 6,000 Colorado jobs and 20 wind power manufacturing facilities across the state. Colorado wind farms, meanwhile, provide a second cash crop to the state’s farmers and a vital source of support for rural communities in the form of approximately $5.4 million a year in land lease payments and more than $10 million in annual property tax payments.

“Windsor, Colorado, is a prime example of how wind power serves as a catalyst of economic activity and revives small-town America,” said AWEA CEO Denise Bode. “The time is now for Congress to act and extend the PTC so that the wind energy industry can maintain the job base it has already built and create even more jobs in towns large and small across America.”

WindTV is a showcase of video profiles of Americans whose lives have been positively impacted by the wind energy industry. The site, located at http://www.awea.org/windtv, features a different video profile each week.

To hear more about Vestas and Windsor, and how wind power works for America, go to WindTV.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 79 cosponsors, including 18 Republicans, and has received the endorsement of a broad coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Western Governors’ Association, while a Senate bill to extend it was introduced March 15 by seven Senators, including three Republicans. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.

Further endorsements of the wind energy production tax credit.

Related articles:

Citing need for certainty, BP's Landis calls for PTC extension, March 20, 2012
In op-ed, Kansas Governor, Senator call for PTC extension, March 19, 2012
Bipartisan group of Senators introduces bill to extend PTC, March 16, 2012
Houston Chronicle editorial supports PTC extension, March 15, 2012
Southern Alliance head urges: Extend the PTC, March 14, 2012
WindTV: Missouri manufacturer grows with the wind, March 12, 2012
Oklahoma and America need wind technicians–and a PTC extension, March 8, 2012
WindTV: An American family, powered by a paycheck from wind, March 5, 2012
Salazar, citing 'race we cannot cede', backs extending PTC, March 1, 2012
Kerry, Brown win praise for bipartisan support of PTC extension, February 29, 2012
Wichita Eagle editorial blog endorses PTC extension, February 28, 2012
Daily Oklahoman: PTC extension “makes sense,” February 27, 2012
Bipartisan group of Illinois Representatives supports PTC extension, February 24, 2012
Kansas City Star backs PTC extension, praises Brownback, Moran, February 23, 2012
Bennet visits composites factory, urges PTC extension, February 23, 2012
Moran visits Siemens factory, pushes PTC extension, February 22, 2012
WindTV: PTC key to wind power manufacturing jobs, February 21, 2012
Topeka Capital-Journal: Extend the PTC, February 21, 2012
U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA): PTC is jobs engine conservatives should support, February 17, 2012
Bennet, Moran continue bipartisan push to extend PTC, February 16, 2012
Major U.S. consumer brands like Nike on extending the PTC: Just Do It!, February 15, 2012
Oklahoma Gov. Fallin urges conferees: Extend the PTC, February 15, 2012
Michigan worker's plea: Extend PTC, help wind power create U.S. jobs, February 13, 2012
Bipartisan letter from entire Iowa Congressional delegation urges: Extend the PTC
, February 10, 2012
Senate Energy Chairman Bingaman: Act now to save clean-energy jobs
, February 9, 2012
Bipartisan letter from Colorado Congressional delegation urges: Extend the PTC
, February 8, 2012
Republican governors push for PTC extension; Senators express support
, February 2, 2012
U.S. Chamber of Commerce joins broad range of groups endorsing PTC extension
, February 1, 2012
WindTV: Wind power drives commerce in small-town America
, January 24, 2012
Denver Post endorses PTC extension 'sooner rather than later'
, January 18, 2012
WSJ op-ed: 'Want Growth? Try Stable Tax Policy'
, January 5, 2012
Red State Energy, Red State Jobs
, November 29, 2011

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Carl has been a part of the AWEA team since 2006. He brings both his expertise in communications as well as experience with the evolving wind energy industry to the job of overseeing AWEA's online and written publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, WINDPOWER Update, WINDPOWER Today, and various print materials. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans employed as a teacher as well as working with homeless youth.

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