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US Senator Introduces Bill to Help Manufacturers Retool for Clean Energy Economy

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was joined yesterday by Apollo Alliance Chairman Phil Angelides and other notable business, labor and clean energy leaders as he introduced the "Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act of 2009," a bill that would put America's ailing manufacturing sector on the road to recovery by facilitating the development of domestic clean energy manufacturing and production.

The stimulus and other policies being considered in the energy bill — such as a Renewable Energy Standard or a carbon cap — will generate unprecedented demand for clean energy parts and systems. Yet, 70 percent of America’s clean and efficient energy systems are currently produced abroad, including half of the country’s existing wind turbines and all transformers for the electrical grid.

"Without a program to support our own domestic manufacturers, policies that create new demand for clean energy will just lead to more imports,” said Angelides. “It is critical that Congress enact legislation that provides direct and substantial investment in clean energy component manufacturing to ensure that jobs are created in the U.S.”

The IMPACT Act would provide resources for small- and medium-sized manufacturers through a 2-year, $30 billion manufacturing revolving loan fund, which will provide much needed liquidity for domestic manufacturers to improve manufacturing processes and to retool and expand production of clean energy products. The Apollo Alliance estimates that, once enacted, the bill will create 680,000 direct manufacturing jobs and nearly 2 million indirect jobs over five years.

“We can revive American manufacturing through investment in clean energy,” said Senator Brown. “This bill will help our manufacturers retool, put our auto suppliers back to work, and produce clean energy technologies.”

Brown’s legislation would also expand and focus Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs) on clean energy manufacturing. Under Brown’s legislation, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a division of the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, would receive $1.5 billion in federal funds over five years to help manufacturers access clean energy markets and adopt innovative, energy-efficient manufacturing technologies.

“The only way to put our existing manufacturing sector to work, and to scale up to meet the new demand created by the cap and trade program, is to have a dedicated source of funding for investments in component manufacturing,” said Angelides.

In April, Apollo Alliance released its Green Manufacturing Action Plan (GreenMAP), which detailed aggressive steps to scale up production of American-made clean energy systems and components while making U.S. factories more energy efficient. Developed in collaboration with industry, labor, environmental groups, and academic experts, the Apollo GreenMAP called for direct federal funding for clean energy manufacturers to retool facilities and retrain workers to develop, produce and commercialize clean energy technologies.

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