The head of wind-turbine giant Vestas Wind Systems flew into Portland this morning for a breakfast forum to promote the benefits of clean energy and call on U.S. lawmakers to enact long-term development incentives.
Ditlev Engel, chief executive of Denmark-based Vestas, criticized Congress for failing to include a production tax credit in the energy bill passed late last year. The tax credit currently in place – which has contributed to record-breaking installation of wind turbines in the West and throughout the country – will expire the end of this year.
“Manufacturers need to plan far beyond that,” Engel said of the Dec. 31 deadline. “A long-term production tax credit is vital.”
Industry and utility lobbyists say there’s still time for Congress to extend the credit. But some fear election-year politics will stymie action.
Engel spoke to members of the Portland Business Alliance gathered at the Governor Hotel.
Vestas’ North American headquarters are in Portland, where the company employs about 300 people. The company’s worldwide work force stands at about 15,000.
Vestas will open its first manufacturing plant in the U.S. in March – to make turbine blades – at a site in Windsor, Colo. It has announced plans to set up a research and development facility in this country and expects to settle on a location by year-end.
Vestas commands 28 percent of the wind-turbine market, with 33,000 turbines worldwide. Some of its turbines are turning at wind farms in the Columbia River Gorge, including 76 at Portland General Electric’s Biglow Canyon wind project in Sherman County.
-Gail Kinsey Hill
16 January 2008
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