Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Senators seek 'Buy American' provision for wind turbines" and "Wind industry slams Schumer’s ‘Buy American’ plan" (GE)

A twofer. First up, the Houston Chronicle's NewsWatch: Energy blog:

Democratic senators, led by New York's Charles E. Schumer, on Wednesday implored the Obama administration to stop spending federal stimulus dollars on renewable energy projects, arguing that the much of the money is heading overseas.

They also introduced legislation that would block future clean energy stimulus spending on projects that create the bulk of new jobs outside the U.S.

Their move was prompted by a new report by the non-partisan Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University that found that foreign wind companies have nabbed 79 percent of the $2 billion in grants created by a clean energy program in the stimulus package Congress passed last year.

Schumer also has been critical of a planned wind farm in West Texas -- a $1.5 billion collaboration involving Austin, Texas-based Cielo Wind Power, China's Shenyang Power Group and the private equity firm U.S. Renewable Energy Group. Organizers have indicated they may seek federal tax credits that would defray 30 percent of the project cost, even though the 648-megawatt facility is expected to rely on Chinese-made turbines.

"It is a no-brainer that stimulus funds should only go to projects that create jobs in the United States rather than overseas," said Schumer, D-N.Y. "These wind projects have a lot of merit, but the manufacturing should be happening here, not in China."

Cielo president Walt Hornaday has noted his company has not applied for any federal grants in conjunction with the planned wind farm. And Cielo insists that at least 70 percent of each turbine will be manufactured in the U.S.

Schumer noted that domestic manufacturers -- including the Schenectady, N.Y.-based renewable operations of GE Energy -- are capable of building blades, gearboxes and other wind turbine components....MORE

And from The Hill:

The wind industry’s major trade group on Wednesday attacked legislation floated by several Senate Democrats that would require stimulus-funded renewable power projects to rely on materials manufactured domestically.

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said the proposal would kill 50,000 American jobs. “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,” she said in a prepared statement.

The stimulus law created a new Treasury Department grant program to support construction of wind farms, solar energy projects and other renewable energy generation facilities.

But Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and three colleagues are calling on Treasury to ensure the money only flows to projects that use U.S.-built components, or freeze the program until their bill passes.

Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Robert Casey (D-Penn.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) sponsored the legislation with Schumer.

Bode said the effect of the plan would be the opposite of the lawmakers’ intent to create new U.S. jobs. The U.S. wind industry has seen an uptick in jobs building and operating wind farms due to the stimulus program, even as manufacturing jobs have stalled, AWEA reported earlier this year.

But there is not currently enough manufacturing capacity to produce 100 percent of wind turbine components in the U.S., Bode said....MORE