GJ business looks to blow up wind energy sector

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – A local business uses an extended wind power tax credit to try to expand its renewable energy sector.

As part of the "fiscal cliff" budget deal, Congress passed a one-year extension of the tax credit, which is worth 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of wind energy produced for the first 10 years of operation.

Grand Junction-based Leitwind, a unit of Leitner Technologies, hopes to capitalize on that extension. It manufactures wind turbines, an endeavor that makes up about 5 percent of Leitner-Poma’s business.

Sales Representative Jeremy Celayeta said in the midst of Congressional debates, their new wind development was stalled.

“A lot of the developers were waiting on this extension that Congress finally pushed through, which is good news for the industry nationwide,” he said.

About three to five people actively pursue wind projects for Leitwind right now, but if new proposals pan out, Celayeta said they could bring 15 to 20 new hires on board, some of which could be based out of Grand Junction.

“Hopefully, one day in the future, when we get more orders, we expand our manufacturing base and hire more people to work in the renewable energy industry,” he said.

Now, Celayeta hopes to see a five-year energy plan from Congress. He believes that renewable energy sectors like wind energy shouldn’t always need government subsidies and should eventually survive on their own.

However, for Leitwind to compete with companies like GE and Vestas at this time, it needs a helping hand like this tax credit, Celayeta said.

Leitner Technologies first blew into wind turbine research in 2000, installing its first unit in 2003.

In 2012, Leitwind installed a turbine in New York Harbor. Celayeta proudly points out that it made it through Hurricane Sandy just fine.

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