At its peak in 2008 and 2009, the [wind] industry employed about 85,000 people, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry’s principal trade group.
About 10,000 of those jobs have disappeared since, according to the association, as wind companies have been buffeted by weak demand for electricity, stiff competition from cheap natural gas and cheaper options from Asian competitors. Chinese manufacturers, who can often underprice goods because of generous state subsidies, have moved into the American market and have become an issue in the larger trade tensions between the countries. In July, the United States Commerce Department imposed tariffs on steel turbine towers from China after finding that manufacturers had been selling them for less than the cost of production.
And now, on top of the business challenges, the industry is facing a big political problem in Washington: the Dec. 31 expiration of a federal tax credit that makes wind power more competitive with other sources of electricity.
And international trade sure brings out the hypocrite in us. If a federal tax credit is a subsidy, isn't there a chance that U.S. producers selling stuff for less than the cost of production? On a personal note, I'm always happy if someone is willing to sell me something below cost (i.e., the U.S. is made better off if we can purchase cheap turbine steel towers from China).