Representatives from the wind power industry are gathering in Atlanta this week. They say Georgia and the rest of the southeast show great promise to grow wind manufacturing jobs. But they are worried about losing a federal subsidy.
Georgia currently has nine facilities that manufacture component parts for wind turbines.
Denise Bode with the American Wind Energy Association, says thanks to a federal tax credit the southeast has seen a big increase in production.
“We were able, in a very short period of time, to basically add 90 manufacturing facilities in a four or five state region here in the south.”
But the subsidy is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Jan Blittersdorf with NRG Systems says her company has laid off workers in anticipation of losing it.
“Manufacturing doesn’t turn on a dime. You know once you start to dismantle the beautiful infrastructure that we’ve built up over the years, we’re not going to be able to reopen factories or rehire people.”
Executives are asking Congress to extend the subsidy for another three or four years until the industry becomes self-sufficient. But political experts say it’s unlikely Congress will even consider the tax credit until after the November election.
Tom Carnahan with Wind Rose Partners says the industry won't have to shut down if the subsidy does expire. He says they will have to focus more on exporting to Canada and Uraguay. He says the industry is moving toward self-sufficiency.
He says the price of wind turbines has come down by a third, and they are working on making turbine blades lighter.
But they say losing the production tax credit this year will hurt the industry's ability to grow.