Last night news broke that Siemens’ wind energy will be restaffing their American manufacturing sites. This is great news for the wind industry and for local economies  impacted by Siemens’ hiring (such as our local economy in Hutchinson, KS.)

Of particular interest in comments from the Siemens’ executives is that the renewed PTC legislation is not key to this restaffing -but that increased orders for export of wind turbines is driving the need to restaff facilities.

Here is an excerpt from the press release:

After the uncertain fate of the production tax credit (PTC) led Siemens to lay off approximately 37% of its U.S. wind energy workforce last year, the company is now in the process of restaffing its operations in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kan., company spokesperson Monika Wood confirmed to NAW.

Although the tax credit has been renewed, Siemens’ decision to hire more workers is not a direct result of the PTC extension, Wood says. In fact, the company is restaffing in order to produce wind turbine components for projects located outside the U.S.

“While the recently passed one-year PTC extension is not directly related to our need to ramp up production at this time, the PTC extension gives us confidence in the American market,” Wood tells NAW. “As projects move forward and we receive new wind turbine orders sparked by the PTC extension, we will continue to adjust our operations accordingly.”

Read the entire release here.

We are glad to see the wind industry getting back to work!

Kate Van Cantfort, Communications Director for  CEP

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In less than a week, we’ve collected over 500 signatures in support of the production tax credit for wind energy.

CEP, the Wind Coalition, Kansas Interfaith Power and Light and the Kansas Natural Resources Council are asking Kansans to sign a letter of support for the Production Tax Credit. Sign and share the letter on Facebook here.

You can read and sign the letter below:

We will only reach our goal of 5,000 signatures by October 7th with your help.

Dorothy Barnett, executive director, Climate + Energy Project

Energy is a big deal to me – how we create it, how to use it wisely, how much we pay for it, how to make it cleaner.

I think, write and talk about it every single day.

If you’re like most people, the only time you consider energy is when you’re paying the electric bill or during a power outage.  You’re probably more concerned (and understandably so) about getting the kids to school on time, doing the best you can at your job (or finding a job), figuring out how to pay for college, healthcare, braces or the myriad of others things we all worry about every day.

I’m asking for two minutes of your time today to think about about energy.

Almost a year ago we gave a really good overview about what the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) is and why it matters.

It was more than a year before it was set to expire – so perhaps you thought it wasn’t something to worry about. Today, the impacts of an expiring PTC are being felt across the country. A Google search minutes ago reports over 7,400 news articles about the PTC in the past month, from California, Texas to Washington DC and every place in between.

Does this impact you?

If you live in the Heart of America, of course it does. Kansas is second in the nation for wind energy potential.

Thousands of your Kansas neighbors are employed by the wind industry. They may be instructors for wind energy technicians at Cloud County Community College, or professors teaching engineers at the Wind Application Center at KSU. They may work for a small non-profit dedicated to a clean energy economy.

They may work at the new Flat Ridge 2 wind farm (soon to be over 300 MW) doing operations and maintenance, or at one of the other sixteen wind farms that will be online by the end of this year. Your friends may work for Jupiter in Junction City or they may work for Siemens or Draka in Hutchinson building parts of the vast wind turbines you see on the plains.

Your aunt, uncle, brother or son might own some ground they’re leasing to a wind developer for some extra income in a drought ridden year.  Your kids might attend a school or go to a park that is supported by payments in lieu of taxes because your county hosts a wind farm. You might run a restaurant, a hotel, be an electrician, sell insurance, drive a truck.

No matter what you do, the billions of dollars that have been invested in wind energy in Kansas impacts you or someone you know.

The production tax credit will expire in December unless Congress takes action.  Their inaction to date has already had huge consequences for thousands of people across the nation.  Tell them to stop playing politics with our friends and neighbors and renew the production tax credit today.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

Dorothy Barnett Executive Director, Climate + Energy Project

Great news for Sempra, BP Wind and Siemens as Sempra and Maui Electric announced development of a  new wind farm including 4 MW of energy storage. The announcement stated “the 21 MW wind farm will utilize eight Siemens wind turbines to generate enough renewable energy for approximately 10,000 average Maui homes.”

Bravo to Hawaii for a great move like this to create a secure energy future for its residents.

Read more about this new wind farm here.

Other great news:

Looks like New Mexico is preparing for a new renewable energy transmission line. The proposed project and associated upgraded facilities would make it possible to transport New Mexico’s wind and solar energy to electricity users across the Western states according to the announcement.

Well with all this great new news, we hope you have a great weekend!

Kate Van Cantfort, CEP Dir of Communications & Special Projects

For those of you following the news on the Production Tax Credit, several sources, including North American Wind Power report new legislation that will extend the PTC for an additional four years. Great news for Kansas and our fellow Southwest Power Pool states.

From North American Wind Power Staff:

U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., members of the tax-writing House Committee on Ways and Means, have introduced the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act (H.R.3307), which would extend the tax incentive for the production of wind power, geothermal power, hydro-power and some other forms of renewable energy through 2016.

The bill proposes a four-year extension of the existing production tax credit (PTC) for wind, biomass, geothermal, small irrigation, landfill gas, trash and hydro-power. It was created by the Energy Policy Act of 1992 and has frequently been extended in year-end packages of expiring tax provisions, as well as in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The current incentive is set to expire next year for wind and in 2013 for other renewable energy sources. Advocates note that historically, at least six to eight months before the tax credit expires, financial lenders hesitate in providing capital for projects because of the uncertainty created by the pending expiration of the credit, thus stalling projects from coming online.

The rush to complete projects as the PTC nears expiration also adds costs, resulting in higher electricity prices, the congressmen noted.

“Extending this long-standing tax incentive will leverage private investment to bring proven energy projects online, bolster domestic manufacturing and reduce electricity costs for businesses and families,” Reichert said. “Renewable energy resources play an important and increasing role in America’s total energy supply and reducing our reliance on foreign energy resources controlled by hostile nations. The certainty this bipartisan bill will provide can further spur growth in this vital sector, increase economic development and create jobs.”

American Wind Energy Association
CEO Denise Bode expressed her support for the legislation, noting that it would benefit not only the wind industry, but also the nation’s workforce and overall economy.

“The recent stability of the production tax credit has provided the foundation of wind energy’s transformation of a new manufacturing sector based on American ingenuity,” she said. “Over the last six years, U.S. domestic production of wind turbine components has grown 12-fold to more than 400 facilities in 43 states. Extending the PTC will keep growing U.S. wind energy manufacturing jobs, rather than losing them to other countries.”

As I mentioned in a recent post, there are many reasons why our Kansas Congressional delegation should all be supporting this important policy; jobs, jobs and more jobs to name a few.

Representative Mike Pompeo and Senator Pat Roberts have a new reason to support the PTC – Siemens just opened a new wind power distribution facility in Wichita.

Dorothy Barnett, Executive Director

Fingers crossed for Hutch! CEP’s Nancy Jackson and Dorothy (okay, Dot) Barnett are at Windpower and will attend the Siemens announcement tomorrow, BTW.

From the Hutch News, by reporter John Green:

Hutchinson will learn Siemens’ choice of home for new plant Tuesday

Siemens Energy will reveal Tuesday at an event in Chicago whether Hutchinson has landed its new wind turbine manufacturing plant.

The German conglomerate will make an announcement from the floor of the WINDPOWER 2009 Conference “in the later afternoon,” said company spokeswoman Monika Wood.

The annual Chicago event, coordinated by the American Wind Energy Association at the McCormick Place Convention Center, is reportedly the largest wind conference and exhibition in the world, attended by more than 15,000 people and featuring more than 1,200 exhibitors.

Siemens would not confirm which cities were under consideration for a new plant. Sources in Sioux City, Iowa, revealed last week that Hutchinson was a finalist. Sioux City is reportedly also competing for the plant, which would employ at least 400 people and pay wages of at least $16 per hour.

“There will be an announcement, but until then, we can’t give out any more information,” Wood said. “We’re still trying to coordinate all the various parties that need to be present.”

Local officials remain tightlipped about the effort to bring the global manufacturer to Hutchinson or what incentives are being offered to attract it.

Siemens, meanwhile, released its financial report for its latest quarter, showing a net profit of $1.3 billion, more than double its profit from the first three months of last year, on sales that were up 5 percent from a year earlier.

The Munich-based company, however, warned that last year’s figures were distorted by substantial charges related to large projects, and it lowered its year-end operating profit outlook. The company is now forecasting its profits for the year will match last year’s $8.7 billion.

The company’s Energy Division – which ranges from making equipment for fossil and renewable power generation to power transmission and distribution itself – was the main driver behind its growth.

According to press reports, company officials said they expect new orders in energy to weaken in 2010 because of the recession, but it is also working to cash in on economic stimulus packages around the world aimed at renewable energy and energy efficiency.