Project Development, Wind Power

Senate Proposal Could Hurt US Wind Industry

This week, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation that, if passed, would restrict any renewable energy project that uses less than 100% U.S. made components from receiving tax payer subsidies and grants.

The proposal is a reaction to the 600-megawatt (MW) wind farm that is being developed in Texas by China’s Shenyang Power Group, Texas-based Cielo Wind Power and the U.S. Renewable Energy Group applying for a stimulus grant.

Schumer and cosponsors  Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) also wrote to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner asking him to stop all grant payments from the ARRA until the “loophole” allowing foreign companies to apply for funding could be closed. The Senators also said that of the US $2 billion in program funds that have already been spent, 79% has gone to creating jobs overseas.

The wind industry has recieved most of this $2 billion, and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) struck a defiant tone in its opposition to Schumer’s proposal.

“At a time when the construction unemployment rate is nearly 25% and the manufacturing unemployment rate is 13%, this proposal would cost 50,000 American workers their jobs. The truth is, by law, Recovery Act grants can only be used to finance projects that are being built in the United States. This proposal would torpedo one of the most successful job creation efforts of the Recovery Act, which has already preserved half of the 85,000 American jobs in the U.S. wind industry,” said Denise Bode, AWEA’s CEO. “Rather than adopt policies that will kill American jobs, Congress should enact policies that will create jobs by encouraging manufacturers to invest in U.S. plants.”

The Recovery Act has been creating jobs by helping finance new U.S. wind energy projects that have broken ground or been completed since the Act was passed.

AWEA also said that Schumer and his allies are using flawed data to justify the move. More than half of the value of wind turbines used in U.S. wind projects is domestically produced, and that percentage is increasing every year as more turbine makers build U.S. manufacturing capability according to AWEA’s numbers.

Bode also said that the proposed moratorium and legislation would kill this effort and destroy the momentum for one of the few industries that has been creating jobs and economic growth.