While attaining an international agreement on climate action appears challenging, wind energy provides the U.S. with a win-win opportunity: a way to reduce carbon emissions while at the same time revitalizing rural communities across the heartland and building a new manufacturing industry that can provide thousands of jobs.
This opportunity is exemplified by the grand opening this past week of a new wind turbine nacelle factory in Hutchinson, Kansas, by Siemens Energy. In the words of Kansas U.S. Senator and Governor-Elect Sam Brownback, “The grand opening of the Siemens wind nacelle manufacturing plant is great news for the Hutchinson community and the state of Kansas. The expansion of renewable energy infrastructure is critical as America looks for ways to decrease its dependence on foreign, non-renewable energy resources.”
The new 300,000-square-foot facility is located in the heartland of the U.S. with highway and rail access to ship completed nacelles to wind farms in the U.S. and throughout the Americas, and it employs 130 people, a number that is expected to triple when the factory is fully operational.
How can we seize the opportunity the Hutchinson factory represents and create more wind energy manufacturing facilities across the U.S.? The key is stable, consistent federal policies to provide the certainty that businesses and investors need.
In the short term, the wind energy industry needs an extension of its tax incentive. And to provide the foundation for sustained industry growth in the years ahead, it needs the consistent policy (at no cost to the Treasury) that only a Renewable Electricity Standard will provide.