Stimulus Suspension Would Put 85,000 Wind Jobs at Risk

AWEA and the wind energy industry reacted strongly to an initiative by four Senators that would suspend crucial renewable energy development incentives in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that the industry views as a huge success and a lifeline in the economic crisis.

The four Senators—Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) — on Wednesday urged the Obama Administration to suspend the U.S. Treasury grant program (offered in lieu of the production tax credit and investment tax credit) indefinitely because of concerns that some of the funds may be going to foreign companies. But the notion is completely erroneous, said AWEA, which pointed out that by law stimulus funds must be spent in the U.S. — and that the dollars being invested in the wind industry are creating and sustaining jobs at wind projects across the country.

Suspending the program, in fact, would have a highly negative effect on U.S. jobs, AWEA said. “At a time when the construction unemployment rate is nearly 25% and the manufacturing unemployment rate is 13%, this proposal could cost 85,000 American workers their jobs,” AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in a statement. “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.”

The U.S. Department of Energy also responded with deep concern. “Other countries are not pressing the pause button on clean energy industries, and they will move quickly to capture America’s share of the global market while we sit on the sidelines,” said DOE Press Secretary Stephanie Mueller, explaining that every dollar in the program helps put Americans to work. “The longer we delay, the longer we remain dependent on foreign oil instead of America’s homegrown, clean energy resources.”

Beyond the jobs created directly at U.S. wind power projects, over half of the components in wind turbines deployed in the U.S. are built here, and that percentage continues to rise as the U.S. has implemented incentive policies reflecting at least a short-term commitment to renewables. As AWEA has said repeatedly, to achieve even more significant job creation within the U.S. wind power supply chain, long-term policy certainty is needed—specifically, a national renewable electricity standard.

“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,” said Bode. “That means passing a renewable electricity standard now.”

Bode, who spent the better part of the week reaching out to the media (she spoke on CNBC, for example) to set the record straight, continued, “The Recovery Act has been creating jobs by helping finance new American wind energy projects that have broken ground or been completed since the Act was passed. 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.

“It is unfortunate that the proponents of this moratorium and legislation are using a deeply flawed study as the basis for a policy that would destroy tens of thousands of American jobs.

“We support the goal of continuing the rapid expansion of U.S. wind manufacturing. 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.  We do not have the capability today to produce 100% of wind turbine components in the U.S., but we can grow our manufacturing base and add 274,000 American jobs if Congress passes a strong Renewable Electricity Standard.”

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Carl is Editor & Publications Manager at the American Wind Energy Association, where has worked since 2006. At AWEA he oversees AWEA's online and print publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, Windpower Update, and other products. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans teaching as well as working with homeless youth.

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