Fact check: Senator DeMint video mistaken on wind project’s positive impact

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint (R) recently posted a YouTube video making erroneous and mistaken claims about a wind project in rural Illinois.

The Cayuga Ridge wind project built by Portland, Ore.-based Iberdrola Renewables, Inc. in rural Livingston County, Ill., used American-built turbines and created more than 1,500 American jobs. In total, 80 American companies (12 of them in Illinois) benefited from this homegrown clean energy project.

But don’t our word for it, you can learn more about this project straight from its workers, neighbors and local community here.

Meanwhile, the Cayuga Ridge project, and hundreds of others like it across the U.S., are revitalizing our homegrown manufacturing base by “insourcing” a whole new manufacturing sector. The American wind industry added 14 new U.S. manufacturing facilities in the last year alone, for a total of over 400 factories in 42 states. And 13 of these facilities are located in Senator DeMint’s own South Carolina.

Wind’s 75,000 current U.S. jobs are primed to more than quintuple in less than 20 years (according to a study completed by the U.S. Department of Energy during the George W. Bush Administration). And the wind energy industry is already investing between $10 and $20 billion per year in the U.S. economy.

How can you argue against an industry that is homegrown, clean and creating a needed bright spot for American manufacturing during this economic downturn? Senator DeMint’s video relies on a widely discredited, two-year-old Spanish economic report. When the foremost experts on the American renewable energy industry, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, took a look at the study, they concluded, “The analysis by the authors from King Juan Carlos University represents a significant divergence from traditional methodologies used to estimate employment impacts from renewable energy … [T]he primary conclusion made by the authors – policy support of renewable energy results in net jobs losses – is not supported by their work.” Meanwhile, a raft of other, more mainstream, research has found that increased deployment of clean, homegrown sources of renewable energy, like wind, will “have a net positive impact on employment.”

Finally, Senator DeMint attempts to use this American-built, American-based project to criticize a renewable energy grant program created under the 2009 Recovery Act. The 1603 renewable energy grant program has been an essential tool in deploying renewable energy resources in the U.S. over the past two years, successfully increasing U.S. manufacturing and creating tens of thousands of new jobs for Americans.  Renewable energy companies, developers and local small businesses had been able to collect these incentives as tax credits long before the Great Recession hit, making them difficult for businesses to utilize effectively.  The Recovery Act converted these credits into cash payments, making it easier for recipients to quickly expand clean energy generation and hiring during a major economic downturn.

In the case of Iberdrola Renewables, the company has spent an additional $5.4 billion of its own money on the U.S. wind projects for which the company received Section 1603 reimbursements – a more than three-fold leveraging of public investment into private dollars.


An investment that offers three times the leveraging power, creates good, homegrown American manufacturing jobs and provides clean energy – what’s not to like? As Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, also a Republican, recently stated, “Experience has taught us that investment in the renewable-energy economy is creating jobs across all employment sectors, including construction, engineering, operations, technology and professional services, in both rural and urban communities.”


If you agree that wind energy is a good investment, increasing our economic as well as our energy security, please let Sen. DeMint know by emailing him here.


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