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'Political uncertainty' led to closure

The availability of low-cost natural gas has been on the rise. He noted the self-sufficiency in that industry based on U.S. and Canadian reserves and continued fracking. "Wind energy got beat by cheap, natural gas. ...If wind energy could be produced and stand on its own without subsidy, that would be a positive development, but I don't see that as being in the cards right now," he said.

The leader of the company that closed up shop in southwest Wisconsin last month said the move was the result of an increasingly unstable wind energy industry.

The experience of Sintex North America/Wausaukee Composites represents a starkly different picture than what leaders at the U.S. Department of Energy described in a report released this week - a report that pointed out the Iowa-based wind industry as particularly fast-growing.

Although wind energy had "strong headwinds" for a long period of time, an expanding natural gas market and lack of passage of a production tax credit in 2012 stalled that progress, according to Edward Trueman, president and CEO of Wausaukee Composites.

Last month, the company announced it was permanently closing its southwest Wisconsin plant, leaving 33 employees out of work.

"It was a combination of political uncertainty along with cost- effectiveness of natural gas generation affecting our two largest customers," said Trueman, who has been head of Wausaukee since March 2012.

The company lost an account with Spanish firm Acciona last year, leaving German-based Nordex as Wausaukee's main customer.

When that company also decided to pull out... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The leader of the company that closed up shop in southwest Wisconsin last month said the move was the result of an increasingly unstable wind energy industry.

The experience of Sintex North America/Wausaukee Composites represents a starkly different picture than what leaders at the U.S. Department of Energy described in a report released this week - a report that pointed out the Iowa-based wind industry as particularly fast-growing.

Although wind energy had "strong headwinds" for a long period of time, an expanding natural gas market and lack of passage of a production tax credit in 2012 stalled that progress, according to Edward Trueman, president and CEO of Wausaukee Composites.

Last month, the company announced it was permanently closing its southwest Wisconsin plant, leaving 33 employees out of work.

"It was a combination of political uncertainty along with cost- effectiveness of natural gas generation affecting our two largest customers," said Trueman, who has been head of Wausaukee since March 2012.

The company lost an account with Spanish firm Acciona last year, leaving German-based Nordex as Wausaukee's main customer.

When that company also decided to pull out of the North American market, Trueman said, his business was left "holding the bag."

"We were left with no choice but to shutter the facility" in

Cuba City, he said, noting the operation was dedicated to the production of wind energy components.

Trueman said a lack of movement in Washington, D.C., has taken a toll on the business.

A federal tax credit up for renewal that would have subsidized the installation of wind farms, making it economical for companies, municipalities and states to deploy them, never came to a vote last year, according to Trueman. A one-year extension was passed in 2013. He said both presidential candidates and numerous Congressional representatives came out in support of renewing the credit.

"It's a prime example of paralysis in Washington - an inability to make a decision," he said. "There are pieces of legislation that should happen and don't get enacted."

Meanwhile, Trueman said, the availability of low-cost natural gas has been on the rise. He noted the self-sufficiency in that industry based on U.S. and Canadian reserves and continued fracking.

"Wind energy got beat by cheap, natural gas," he said.

But the Department of Energy released two studies this week indicating record growth in the wind market.

Last year, wind energy became the No. 1 source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity for the first time, representing 43 percent of all new electric additions, according to the report.

The DOE added that Iowa continues to be one of the country's largest and fastest-growing wind markets.

A spokesman from the DOE did not return a request for comment this week from the TH, but in a statement, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the U.S. wind industry has experienced "tremendous growth" over the past few years.

However, Trueman still sees the future of the industry as doubtful, saying that although it is a sustainable and clean business, it still is dependent on being subsidized by taxpayer dollars.

"If wind energy could be produced and stand on its own without subsidy, that would be a positive development, but I don't see that as being in the cards right now," he said.


Source: http://www.renewablesbiz.co...

AUG 9 2013
http://www.windaction.org/posts/37983-political-uncertainty-led-to-closure
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