Gamesa, a company that manufactures components for wind turbines - those arguably hideous Star Wars-like energy windmills blighting U.S. horizons - had all but closed its factory by the time it shipped the first $125 million worth of product.
The Gamesa office based in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania makes components that capture the energy from slow winds, and was part of a green manufacturing sector attempting to attract energy providers to wind power, according to a New York Times report.
“We are all really sad,” said Miguel Orobiyi, 34, who worked as a mechanical assembler at the Gamesa plant for nearly five years. “I hope they call us back because they are really, really good jobs.”
Major wind energy providers that created hundreds of manufacturing jobs for companies like Gamesa that build components for the esthetically imposing windmills are experiencing a decrease in demand.
Gamesa is a multinational company with offices around the world that uses local companies to manufacture some components.
The trend means smaller local manufacturers that make specialty steel, bolts and parts are out of work. In the past few months, companies have laid off about 1,700 workers in the wind-energy industry.
Weak demand for electricity, stiff competition from less expensive natural gas and fossil fuel products, plus cheaper products from Asian competitors, have dried up much of the U.S. market for wind energy.
Making matters worse, the industry’s future is dependent on Washington since a federal tax credit giving such companies a leg up on other energy sources for electricity is set to expire Dec. 31.
While the wind-energy industry still has the backing of the President, Mr. Obama faces increasing criticism over “green” energy projects due to losing a half-billion taxpayer dollars on solar power after Solyndra shuttered its plant. That company, among others, closed its doors within a year of opening for business with government-backed loans. Solyndra made solar panels, another popular “green” energy product.
The wind energy tax break, which must be approved by Congress, costs approximately $1 billion per year and with increasing taxpayer-subsidized losses in a wind industry that is gasping for air, extending the subsidy may require a lot of political hot air.