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Vestas not so green after all  

Credit:  By Peter Grady, Greeley Gazette, www.greeleygazette.com 9 March 2012 ~~

While the President is making a huge push for “green” energy over traditional methods such as gas and oil, a report from Danish wind turbine giant, Vestas, reveals the plant is not as “green” as everyone may think.

The facility in Windsor produces turbines and has been hailed as an example of the success of green energy programs. However, the company has released data indicating the plant may not be as successful as people may think.

In a report released by the company, it was revealed that over the last four quarters waste from the Windsor facility increased by 44.7 percent and produced 36 percent more toxic waste than in the previous quarter.

Of that waste, almost ¾ of it was sent to landfills in the state. The waste consists of fiberglass epoxy resin, plastic, fiberglass dust and other items.

A Vestas employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Gazette that he needs to shower every day prior to coming home to avoid harm to his children from the resins that get on his skin. The company has been cited by OSHA for violations related to chemicals used at the facility that have caused injury to employees.

The Greeley Report said an inside report indicates the plant produces approximately 40 blades per week with each blade generating 1 ton of waste.

Andrew Longeteig, A spokesman for Vestas, explained the reason for the increase in the amount of hazardous waste produced in 2011 was because of increases in production related to a record-breaking year for Vestas wind turbine sales in the United States and Canada in 2010.

He went on to say that none of the hazardous waste was considered toxic.

Longeteig also said the company is very busy in the Colorado factories preparing for the construction and installation of as many as 20 new wind farms this year in the US and Canada.

Given these statements, it would appear as if Vestas vindicates President Obama, who has touted green energy as one of his administration’s successes. However, Ditlev Engel, the company’s CEO, admitted that the sales numbers are not exactly a symbol of a successful industry.

Earlier this year the company announced it would be cutting 2,335 jobs or about 10 percent of its workforce.

The company issued a statement indicating that it expects 2012 to be an excellent year saying it is experiencing “the strongest order backlog ever.” However, the company admitted that these high production numbers have been inflated because of the federal wind tax credit. As the credit is set to expire at the end of the year, wind developers are rushing to complete installations this year.

“The United States is a very important market for us,” Engel says. “and we’re not so concerned about the year 2012, but we are much more concerned about the year 2013 – and in particular, in North America, because the production tax credit expires at the end of this year. If it’s not renewed, we have to prepare ourselves for a significant drop of the market in the U.S.”

Longeteig told the Gazette that the credit is needed to ensure production would continue.

“We are also preparing for a potential slowdown in the U.S. market in 2013 in the event the Production Tax Credit (PTC) is not extended. The PTC is crucial to the continued growth of U.S. manufacturing and domestic energy production,” he said. “As disclosed in our January 12 company announcement, if the PTC is not extended, it’s possible that many jobs in our Colorado factories could be affected later this year. Vestas will make a decision concerning its U.S. manufacturing facilities later in the year based on the status of the PTC and the outlook for the markets served by the U.S. factories.”

Longeteig’s statements about the need for the wind tax credit in the face of “record-breaking” sales highlights the problems of Obama’s green energy approach.

While the programs may be popular with the President, they do not appear to be able to stand on their own without the government “encouraging” people to buy it.

Obama has touted the Chevy Volt as a key part of achieving his goal of getting 1 million electric and hybrid cars on the road by 2015. The Energy Department projected that 500,000 of the cars would be sold between 2011 and 2015.

However, sales were nowhere near that figure, partly because of the high cost of the vehicle. General Motors recently announced it was ceasing production of the Volt, blaming the news media for poor sales of the vehicle.

A UAW official in Michigan blamed talk show host Rush Limbaugh for the production stoppage.

“This is another Rush Limbaugh hit job. This idea has taken hold that this is the electric car future that Obama pushed onto the companies, and therefore since it’s failing, he’s failing, and therefore that’s something to celebrate.”

The reality is problems with Volt sales have nothing to do with Limbaugh. Current battery technology means the range of the vehicle is very restricted and Volts cost much more than conventional cars.

In an attempt to spur sales, the Obama administration is proposing that buyers be given a $10,000 tax credit to be “available at the point-of-sale by making it transferable to the dealer or financier, allowing consumers to benefit when they purchase a vehicle rather than when they file their taxes.”

In another example of how the administration believes “green” technology is a success, the government awarded a $10 million award to a manufacturer who created a $50 light bulb.

The $ 10 million award was called the “L prize” and was intended for any manufacturer who could create a green, but affordable light bulb. The winning light bulb costs $50 and is made by Philips.

A spokesman for the company said the bulb cost more because, as the contest required, it is even more energy efficient than an incandescent bulb running on 10 watts instead of 12.5 watts. It is also brighter and lasts longer.

Source:  By Peter Grady, Greeley Gazette, www.greeleygazette.com 9 March 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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