Wind industry coming to Washington to fight for jobs

The U.S. wind industry is descending on Washington this week to make the case for jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

John W. Grabner, Executive Director, Cardinal Fastener & Specialty Company, Inc., in Bedford Heights, Ohio, is growing a manufacturing business by fashioning bolts for wind turbines. He says if Congress passes a renewable electricity standard (RES), it will have three outcomes: “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“We are doubling employment at our company because we are supplying the turbine manufacturers in the United States.”

Vic Abate sees the same industry from a different angle. He is Vice President for Renewables for GE Energy, the largest U.S. manufacturer of wind turbines. He has watched the U.S. wind industry grow, and has watched as the domestic content of U.S. turbines has doubled with increased demand. He thinks we will see a new growth spurt in manufacturing, if we get a renewable electricity standard. “I have a dozen suppliers who will follow us into the U.S. market with the right policies.”

But all of the industry leaders here this week know they face something of a head wind: critics are savaging the wind industry lately because not all of the parts are made in the United States. Armed with a series of specious and superficial reports, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York—the home of GE and a state that is eight in total wind installations—has called on Congress to suspend any stimulus funds to companies that use foreign parts in their turbines.

“This discussion has already had a chilling effect on existing American jobs,” said Don Furman, Senior Vice President for Iberdrola Renewables, the second largest U.S. wind developer and the larest worldwide..

Denise Bode, AWEA’s CEO, is ready and willing to take on the critics. “They are coming after us because we have the facts on our side. We are very well positioned. If you put an RES in place, you will see explosive growth in manufacturing.”

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