Editorial: Waning wind

September 25, 2012


Two years ago, Siemens Energy, with much fanfare, opened a wind power plant in Hutchinson. Since that time, the German company manufactured nearly 950 of the giant 2.3-megawatt nacelles and hubs that sit atop wind-generating towers in Kansas and elsewhere.

According to the Hutchinson News, local and state entities provided Siemens more than $3.22 million in direct cash incentives, as well as free land, a new railroad spur and 10 years worth of tax breaks. It was a lot of money, but it seemed like a good investment in a growing Kansas industry.

Unfortunately, last week, Siemens announced that, because of a downturn in the wind industry triggered by uncertain federal energy policy and tax credits, it would eliminate 885 permanent and temporary contract jobs at its plants in the United States. That includes 256 workers at the Hutchinson plant, more than 60 percent of its workforce.

For a state and nation that is putting so much emphasis on job creation, this is not good news.

The Siemens news drew a mixed reaction from Kansas lawmakers. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran has been working for months to extend the federal production tax credit on wind energy that is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. He didn’t hesitate last week to point a finger at Washington, saying the unwillingness of the federal government “to craft a comprehensive domestic energy policy” had resulted in the wind industry’s decisions not to make further long-term investments. U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts also has supported the extension of the tax credit.

On the other side of the issue were U.S. Reps. Tim Huelskamp and Mike Pompeo, who favor ending all federal wind energy tax credits. Gov. Sam Brownback took a slightly more moderate approach, saying that he favored the tax credits being renewed but phased out over the next three to four years.

It’s hard to see why elected officials from Kansas wouldn’t support incentives to promote wind power. Kansas is ranked among the top states in the nation in terms of wind-power potential. The state obviously can’t depend exclusively on the wind for power generation, but the wind industry is a growing enterprise in Kansas both for the power it supplies and the jobs it provides.

The Siemens announcement is a huge blow for Hutchinson, but it also draws attention to a broader policy issue that is important to the development of alternative energy sources in Kansas and across the nation. The wind energy tax credit is important to Kansas and it deserves the support of our elected representatives.


cowboy 5 years, 8 months ago

Take a wild guess who is against wind energy subsidies........ drum roll....... Koch's and Americans for Prosperity.

Mores jobs lost due to Brownbacks hysterical policies and the Koch's and AFP's interference.

Lets take back our government , throw every Kansas incumbent out every chance you get.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

When you imagine monsters under your bed, are they the Koch brothers?

Cai 5 years, 8 months ago

and would that I could confine them under a bed.

cowboy 5 years, 8 months ago

Google Koch and wind energy , see what you find , don't break your neck when you fall off your high horse.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

Eliminate subsidies on schools? For the poor? The disabled?

With the government operating at a substantial deficit, I suspect we are all being subsidized to some extent, with future generations picking up the tab. Do you also plan to eliminate your own subsidy? Be sure to put the correct postage when mailing that EXTRA check to the U.S. Treasury.

mycatsrightorwrong 5 years, 8 months ago

Child sex and the crack trades don't need subsidies, perfectly functioning markets. You're right Larry, logic of the market is never wrong!

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

Unwillingness by Congress to continue subsidies is causing the downturn in alternative energies. Congress destroyed these American jobs, not the White House.

However, oil and natural gas subsidies are alive and well, and have been for nearly a century.

4getabouit 5 years, 8 months ago

You have to be either an idiot or a complete idiot to not understand the forces at work here. I suspect "drill baby drill" is the song blown in the wind.

MarcoPogo 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe they could redirect a steady stream of the hot air that blows around the LJW boards. It's anything but intermittent.

headdoctor 5 years, 8 months ago

The moderator delete button has worked at least once today. To bad it doesn't work a few more times.

Armstrong 5 years, 8 months ago

Didn't Solyndra say the same thing about sun ?

Gareth Skarka 5 years, 8 months ago

Might be a little much for you to wrap your head around, but:

Solyndra =/= the entire solar power industry.

Sorry, but your pet conspiracy theory doesn't trump actual science.

Check out what Germany is doing through subsidizing future tech instead of 19th century (oil) tech: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_power_in_Germany

...and when, 20 years from now, the US has fallen behind the rest of the developed world, know-nothings like you will be among the loudest complainers.

Armstrong 5 years, 8 months ago

Science does not drive the economy. Do you think if the economy wasn't in the tank Siemens would be producing at capacity ? This entire article is about jobs and the economy. Try to wrap your head around that.

notaubermime 5 years, 8 months ago

Science very much does drive the economy. It is in the cell phones and other gadgets that we use, the computers and safety features in our cars, the methods we use to extract oil and gas, it is behind the increases in crop yield, improvements in medicine, and many other aspects of our daily lives. The economy of developed countries is dependent on science and developing new technology. Losing the patent edge is not a place the US wants to go.

Peacemaker452 5 years, 8 months ago

Gareth, You should do some research on Germany's power grid. They are now having reliability issues due to their reliance on "future tech". Seems that they need some good old tech (coal/gas) to stabalize the grid. BTW, oil has very little to do with commercial power generation.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 8 months ago

Because Obama controls the levers of power and congress is simply there to suck taxes and look pretty. Right! Got it! All one man's fault! Idiots rule!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

Umm, it's the Republicans who are blocking the tax credits, and creating the uncertainty, not Obama.

Crazy_Larry 5 years, 8 months ago

Wind turbines are such a blight on the landscape.

Wind turbines are a blight on the landscape.

Wind turbines are a blight on the landscape. by Crazy_Larry

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