story by Roby Brock, with Talk Business
Citing uncertainty over a tax credit provision and a slowdown in production, Danish wind turbine maker LM Windpower said it would lay off more than two-thirds of its Little Rock workforce.
The wind blade manufacturer employs roughly 300 workers at its Little Rock Port Authority facility and company officials said they would cut 80 hourly employees, 14 salaried positions, and 140 temporary workers.
“We have this week told our workforce that we are re-sizing our workforce and business to fit our plans for 2013,” said Adam Ruple, human resources director for LM Windpower.
LM ramped up production earlier this year as many companies increased production to beat a year-end expiration of a wind energy tax credit. Congress is considering acting on an extension of the credit, but has yet to approve the legislation leading to the uncertainty.
The wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) has had bipartisan support in Congress, but it has failed this year to clear approval in Congress despite pressure from industry and local government leaders, including Gov. Mike Beebe (D) and Rep. Tim Griffin (R).
The wind industry’s tax credit was first enacted in 1992 and has expired on three different occasions in the past. It offers a tax rebate of 2.2 cents for each kilowatt-hour of energy produced for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale turbines powered by renewable sources.
While production and employment was accelerated by above-average orders earlier this year, the workforce reduction suggests that orders have cooled beyond what was necessary to bring in temporary help. In May, LM Windpower officials said they had added to their labor force in order to meet strong demand in 2012.