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These are unstable times for wind energy plants. Acciona in West Branch is laying off 40 workers, just months after White House officials had visited the plant to push for wind energy tax credits.
Even though the credit has been extended a year, there’s still uncertainty in the workforce.
Second year student Cody Weiler is training at Kirkwood Community College to become a wind turbine technician.
“I got into it right away, and just loved it,” Weiler said.
Amid uncertainty in the wind industry last year, Weiler admits he briefly thought about changing his career path.
“A couple of months ago it crossed my mind,” Weiler said.
But there’s reason for service technicians like Weiler to feel optimistic about the future.
“Technology itself is new, people are starting to understand it. These job openings that are out there right now, the availability of students to go to work,” said David Bennett, Kirkwood Community College teacher of Energy Production and Distribution Technology program.
It’s a different story for those who actually make the turbine parts.
Acciona joins the likes of Clipper Windpower and Siemens’ that have been forced to cut positions in the past year.
Monday, company officials announced 40 jobs would be lost due to last year’s uncertainty over the extension of the production tax credit.
“Because of the lagging behind of congress not getting that passed, a lot of these companies, manufacturing companies are feeling that reaction right now,” Bennett said.
The one year extension will eventually help wind energy businesses in the short term.
But many in the field say the industry’s stability depends on a long term extension of the credit.
“If we had five to ten years we could make more plans and we could do more projects and put more people to work,” Bennett said.
Stability for now, but questions for the industry’s future.
“It’s got a toe hold, and it’s hanging on, and it just needs a little more help,” Bennett said.
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