A consortium of ports – including the Port of Vancouver USA (POV) and the Port of San Diego – has written to the American Association of Port Authorities, alerting the trade group of the negative impacts that would result if the production tax credit (PTC) for wind power were allowed to expire.
Alastair Smith, the POV's senior director of marketing and operations, tells NAW that wind energy components mean steady employment for local truckers, stevedores and longshoremen.
Transporting and unloading heavy wind turbine components can be an extremely labor-intensive task. Therefore, the unloading of turbine components from arriving vessels requires plenty of manpower.
Wind-related components have become an important income-producer for the POV. In fact, the port has experienced a year-over-year quadrupling of components, as well as the weight of those components. In 2010, the POV handled 743 wind-turbine-related components, representing about 25,000 tons. In 2011, those numbers jumped to 3,064 wind-related components, representing more than 106,000 tons.
However, the port has already seen the impact of policy uncertainty – a situation that will become even more dire by mid-summer.
‘Unfortunately, after July, we anticipate a significant decrease in the number of wind energy components being imported through POV,’ Smith says.
Further complicating matters is that the POV is likely to see less activity from Chinese and Vietnamese wind tower makers because of anti-dumping restrictions.
Last December, four U.S. wind tower manufacturers filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the International Trade Commission against China and Vietnam, alleging unfair trade practices.
Because approximately 80% of the wind cargo components handled by the POV arrive from Asia, severe anti-dumping restrictions would have a significant impact on the port's wind cargo business, Smith says.
In March, President Obama signed H.R.4105 into law, enabling trade regulators to apply countervailing duties to imports from China and other non-market economies in a move the legislation's proponents said would level the playing field for U.S. businesses.
Smith says the domestic-market uncertainty has forced the POV to enter the Chinese market, and the company has even hired a China-based business development officer tasked with educating Chinese business officials about opportunities at the POV.
‘We made some headway with smaller projects, but we were not being included on any tenders in any bids,’ Smith explains.
Thus far, the venture's early returns are encouraging, as the port has been invited to bid on three projects.
Photo: Wind turbine components are unloaded at the Port of Vancouver USA.
Photo courtesy of the Port of Vancouver