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wind turbine
Sen. Mark Udall tours the Siemens Test Wind Turbine at the
National Wind Technology Center just south of Boulder, Colorado, in 2013.
The United States had a tremendous opportunity in the early 1980s to become the world's premier manufacturer and innovator of wind turbines. Thanks to the Reagan administration's sneering and budget-cutting, that opportunity was squandered and, as a consequence, a one-time Danish appliance company called Vestas became the world's largest wind turbine manufacturer. Currently, 19 percent of global wind turbine capacity has been built by Vestas, totaling 60 gigawatts. Vestas has installed 51,000 turbines in 73 nations.

Many other companies, including the U.S.-based G.E. Energy, have entered the market over the years, and G.E. even managed to outpace Vestas to take the No. 1 position in 2012. But last year Vestas was again the world's biggest supplier, with 13.1 percent of global installations. It has installed 52 percent more wind capacity than the next strongest company.

Its U.S. headquarters are in Portland, Oregon, and Vestas has four manufacturing plants in Colorado, which generated 13.8 percent of its electricity with wind power last year. The company announced Friday that the worldwide boom in wind energy has spurred it to hire more employees in Colorado by the end of 2014:

"Right now, we have 800 positions open, and we would expect by the end of the year to have about 2,800 employees in Colorado," Vestas Senior Director of Marketing and Communications for North America Adam Serchuk said during a phone call Thursday. "Overall, we think these are great jobs and an opportunity for people to join an industry that's got legs and be a part of it for the long term."

The business's blade factory in Windsor is expected to acquire 300 more workers this year. The remaining 500 new employees will be based out of Vestas' blade and nacelle factories in Brighton and its tower factory in Pueblo, Serchuk said. [...]

"These are new blue-collar jobs. They're manufacturing jobs in a long tradition of blue-collar manufacturing, but they're also high-tech," he said. "We're not building your granddad's windmill. These are modern power plants."

Those jobs are excellent news. But we could have a lot more if the backwards-thinking going on in the U.S. Congress, much of it from stubborn Republican climate-change deniers who have no problem with subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, hadn't decided to let the production tax credit for wind, solar and geothermal installations expire. That credit, like credits and subsidies in other nations, has helped boost the growth of renewable power in the States well beyond what it would have otherwise been.

Indeed, because the tax credit wasn't renewed, Vestas had to lay off workers in 2013.

There's more to read on this subject below the orange vertical axis wind turbine.  

But a cabal of Republicans and fossil-fool Democrats such as Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, killed renewal of the production tax credit. They're just as myopic and beholden to the energy powers-that-be as Ronald Reagan was 33 years ago when he slashed the budget for the Solar Energy Research Institute (which also worked on wind power) and much of the rest of the federal budget for renewables research, development and commercialization.

The United States should be far ahead of the rest of the world in renewable energy innovations and we would be had the foot-draggers not held us back for so long. Adding or expanding existing tax credits for renewables—in commercial, industrial and residential buildings—as well as upgrading the nation's infrastructure to spur a speed-up in green generation of electricity ought to be on the lips of every Democratic candidate running for office. Such measures mean good jobs and they mean a very different future than the one the fossil-fool marionettes in Congress and state legislatures continue to support.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 12:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS, Daily Kos Labor, Kosowatt, Progressive Policy Zone, DK GreenRoots, Colorado COmmunity, and Daily Kos.

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