Goodbye, Gamesa

This is a look back at Gamesa’s history in Pennsylvania and how tightly it was woven with politics, promises, and taxpayer dollars.

No doubt some of you remember when Gov. Rendell and DEP Secretary Kathleen McGinty (now running for governor) wooed the Spanish wind company Gamesa to Pennsylvania with the promise of big subsidies for wind development.  You’ll read about McGinty’s anguish that Gamesa is leaving PA and I’m sure John Hangar – another gubernatorial candidate – feels the same.  When John Hangar was DEP Secretary (he took over when McGinty abruptly left the post), he threw even more support toward big wind development in Pennsylvania.  http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/harrisburg_politics/For-gov-candidate-McGinty-wind-plant-closure-is-personal.html

A longer, and more honest analysis of Gamesa was recently published in the Altoona Mirror:

http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/578583/Gamesa-plant-closing–62-jobs-lost.html

I found this part to be of special interest:

“Wayne Donato, District 10 staff representative for United Steelworkers of America Local 2635, said Gamesa only has itself to blame for the plant closure and said the state and several green-energy groups fought for the plant, the company’s first in America.

“What folks should know is that this was all totally preventable,” he said. “Thirty-seven percent of new power generation in the U.S. in 2013 was through alternative energy sources. Everybody knows this is the direction to go.”

While several of Gov. Tom Corbett’s critics have accused him of downplaying wind energy in favor of natural gas, Donato said state and federal governments gave Gamesa millions of dollars in grants, paid to widen highways and intersections for transportation and provided the company with plenty of incentives to produce.

“We think that any of the negativity within Gamesa and its relationship in the marketplace is purely of its own doing,” Donato said. “Gamesa made its own bed as far as that’s concerned.”

Governer Rendell made a lot of promises to Gamesa, a few of which are mentioned in this article from 2005:

http://www.mapagroup.net/2005/09/gov-rendell-announces-gamesa-coming-to-pa/

This article from 2006 gives some details about subsidies that Gamesa received and how it expected to grow wind in PA:

http://www.mapagroup.net/2006/03/pa-gov-rendell-gamesas-three-new-manufacturing-facilities/

Finally, some of you will remember just how strong the connection was between Rendell and Gamesa.  Rendell even leaned on the mayor of Tyrone and told him that Tyrone would not get their new sidewalks if they didn’t approve a lease agreement with Gamesa to develop the Sandy Ridge wind project on Ice Mountain, part of the Allegheny Front, which is an Important Bird Area.  Here is the story:

http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/516142.html

Sadly, part of the Sandy Ridge project towers over Tyrone today.  A testament to political pressure.