Opinion

Dear Congress: Help wind energy create U.S. jobs

Photo of Scott Wood
Scott Wood
Power Technician, Danotek Motion Technologies

As someone who works for a company in the wind industry supply chain, I’d like to strongly urge Congress to extend the federal wind production tax credit (PTC), which grows American manufacturing jobs like mine.

My own story is just one of many in this new manufacturing industry. I’ve been working for my current employer, Danotek Motion Technologies, based in the Detroit suburbs, for about a year now, after finishing a power technician training course at the Michigan Institute for Aviation and Technology (MIAT) in Canton, Michigan. Danotek manufactures a line of advanced permanent magnet generators and full-power converters that are used in both land-based and offshore wind turbines.

Before deciding to try to get into the wind business, I worked in construction for 18 years. With Michigan’s economy struggling, construction work has been undependable for some time, and after being unemployed for a year starting in 2009, it seemed like time to try something else. I’m a hunter and outdoorsman, and I saw a small wind farm in northern Michigan. I drove in to see it and then asked some questions about the technology, and as someone who is concerned about conservation, I thought it made a lot of sense. So I decided to go back to school and take a training course that would give me the skills that I would need to get a job in the wind power industry.

I still think wind power makes sense, and it’s been great having a steady paycheck and work at a challenging job that I enjoy. I assemble generators and wiring systems, and help out with whatever other work needs a power technician. Danotek is a small but growing business (about 50 employees), so there’s a variety of work each day.

Danotek has done a lot to expand its business, in particular selling its systems to wind turbine OEMs in both North America and Europe. But with the PTC scheduled to expire at the end of this year, the outlook in the U.S. is uncertain. Congress has let the PTC expire three times in the past 13 years, and each time that’s happened, the wind industry has had a tough time and a lot of people have been laid off.

From where I stand, it’s pretty simple. There are many workers like me in Michigan who have had a hard time finding a steady and rewarding job, and we need a lot more companies like Danotek with factories building major components for wind turbines that can generate an endless supply of clean, renewable energy for this country. And for that to happen, both large and small wind companies need business certainty to be able to make investments in America and hire new American workers — which brings us back to the PTC.

Since 2005, domestic production of wind turbine components has grown 12-fold, and now includes more than 400 factories in 43 states. The PTC has helped the wind industry build new factories, create new jobs like mine, and build a major new manufacturing industry.

Congress has a chance to extend the PTC now, before it is too late. Members of the payroll tax negotiations, including Michigan Congressmen Dave Camp, Fred Upton, and Sander Levin, should include a PTC extension in any tax deal. We need all the clean energy and new manufacturing jobs we can get.

Scott Wood is a power technician for Danotek Motion Technologies.