Peter Roper | The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.
Two years ago, the federal wind power tax credit was on everyone’s lips — from President Barack Obama in his Pueblo speech, to Colorado lawmakers fighting for its extension in Congress.
At the Vestas plant south of Pueblo on Wednesday, tower production appeared to be in full swing and Anthony Kopp, a Vestas vice president, said that will continue through 2015.
While the tax credit technically expired in December, wind power manufacturers can continue to use it for every order they have booked through the end of 2015. Getting that credit extension put turbine makers back to work nationally.
“We’ll likely want it extended again in 2016, but we’re operating at capacity right now,” Kopp said.
He was giving Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., a tour of the 800-employee plant, which seemed to be surrounded by completed turbine tower sections awaiting shipping. Kopp said the Pueblo plant has needed to recruit more than 30 specialty welders from out of the region while still hiring from the welding students at Pueblo Community College.
“We’re in the process of adding 1,500 new workers at our plants in Colorado,” Kopp told Udall.
Udall was among the lawmakers who pressed to get the tax credit into the final budget agreement of 2012. He made 30 floor speeches on the issue.
While some leading Republicans, such as Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also are supporters, the tax credit was sharply attacked by lawmakers from oil- and coal-producing states as a wasteful subsidy.
Udall, who is in a reelection battle with Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said American oil and gas producers also have had their share of permanent tax incentives.
“We will continue to extend the tax credit in the future because there is broad bipartisan support for the wind industry in Colorado,” he said.
This article was written by PETER ROPER from The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.