Chesterton Tribune

Local 6787 vows to push for Moseley wind turbine bill

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By KEVIN NEVERS

If you’ve driven south on I-65 or U.S. Highway 41 in the last few years, you’ve noticed the sprouting like mushrooms of wind-turbine farms in south central Indiana.

Paul Gipson, president of United Steelworkers Local 6787, has certainly noticed them, and on a trip to Indianapolis several years ago he began to wonder: who made the steel in those wind turbines, at 200 tons per turbine, $1,100 per ton?

Actually, Gipson told the Chesterton Tribune on Thursday, China probably did.

“It’s insane,” Gipson said. “No wonder we’ve got such a debt with China. Unemployment’s hovering at 9 percent. You can’t beg, borrow, or steal a job. And here we’ve wind turbine all over the place made from Chinese steel. That’s $15,000 per turbine the state’s losing in tax revenues.”

State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, will introduce a bill in the 2012 session designed to reverse that trend and “place Indiana in the forefront of the development of wind turbines as an inexpensive, effective means of providing energy and creating jobs for Hoosiers”: H.B. 1008, which would offer incentives—including interest-free loans of up to $1 million—for wind-turbine manufacturers to build their turbines in the state using domestic steel.

“Wind power is gaining credibility and popularity as a source of energy that is less costly to build and maintain and safer for our overall environment,” Moseley said in a statement released on Thursday. “We need to couple those benefits, with incentives and opportunity, for wind-turbine manufacturers and fabricators to use American-made products, specifically American-made steel.”

“More specifically,” Moseley added, “I want development of this industry to be able to take full advantage of the quality steel products that come from Indiana and my plan is designed to encourage use of these resources.”

H.B. 1008 would place the Hoosier Heritage Innovative Industry Loan Fund (HHIILF) under the control of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the statement said. Funding would come from legislative appropriations and transfers from the Indiana 21st Century Research and Technology Fund.

In addition to interest-free loans from the HHIILF, Moseley’s proposal “would provide other tax breaks for those parties interested in developing wind-power technology with American-made steel, including reductions in the state’s adjusted gross income tax and expanded use of the state’s Economic Development for a Growing Economy tax credits.” Moseley said.

“Considering the important role that steel has played as an economic backbone for our state, I think it is only natural that we take full advantage of existing resources to give Indiana a strong foothold on what could be a dominant industry for years to come,” Moseley said. “I think it is about time we started looking for ways to make things in America again.”

ArcelorMittal may be the world’s largest steel company, Gipson noted—with around 6 percent of the global annual capacity, down from 10 percent—but China is by far the world’s largest steel producer. “They’re building 35 brand-new blast furnaces. They’ve already got 64. They’re the world’s biggest Communist company and we’ve got a debt to them. And we’re not doing anything about it.”

Moseley’s bill would do something about it, Gipson said. “Both sides, Democrats and Republicans, should make H.B. 1008 a priority, instead of this oxymoron called ‘right-to-work.’ It would pay for itself in tax revenues. It would create jobs. And our membership is going to push for this. We’re going to follow it all the way through.”

 

Posted 12/30/2011