With a key wind-energy tax credit set to expire Wednesday, Gamesa Technology Corp., the Spanish-based wind-turbine company with operations in Bucks County, said Thursday that it had signed a "framework agreement" with EDP Renewables to produce up to 225 of its latest generation of turbines through 2016.
Gamesa issued a statement saying this was the largest such agreement for its G114-2.0 Megawatt turbines. Such turbines, which cost about $2 million apiece early in 2013, are the size of a cargo container and are hoisted atop towers to produce energy from the turning blades of a windmill.
Officials did not return calls seeking comment, so it was unclear whether there would be more work - or more layoffs - at the company's North American headquarters in Trevose or the manufacturing facilities in Fairless Hills. Bloomberg News reported in November that Gamesa announced it would shut 24 offices worldwide, cut 2,600 jobs, and seek more sales in emerging markets.
The United Steelworkers union represents some employees in the Fairless Hills facility, but a spokesman could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Spain is among the world leaders in production of wind energy, and Pennsylvania was among the U.S. states that began to develop that form of power. Gamesa opened in Bucks County in 2005, lured in part by state aid and tax credits. But since then, Marcellus Shale natural gas development - which has its own government subsidies - has cut energy prices, so some wind companies are challenged to find profits and sustainability.
In August 2012, Gamesa laid off 92 workers at Fairless Hills and 73 others in Ebensburg, Pa., where it makes the 150-foot-long turbine blades. But workers were recalled to complete a 25-turbine order. In February, Gamesa officials told The Inquirer that orders were uncertain for the rest of the year, but in September, the company got an order for 10 turbines from a Michigan wind farm.
Gamesa has retreated from creating and running entire wind farm systems in the United States, choosing to supply components to other operators. One such company is EDP Renewables, which is also headquartered in Madrid but has a U.S. headquarters in Houston and operates 27 wind farms in 10 states, according to its website.
"This agreement strengthens the long-standing relationship we have with EDP Renewables globally and in North America," Gamesa North America chief executive officer Borja Negro said in a statement. "This collaboration with a valued customer demonstrates the appeal of the Gamesa G114 model, which is one of the most efficient wind turbines in the market. The agreement reinforces Gamesa's presence in the United States and demonstrates our position as a technology leader in the U.S. wind power industry."