the (new) american worker

U.S. Wind Turbines Are Nearly Fifty Percent Foreign Made
March 4, 2010, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Wind | Tags: , , ,

Caught this fierce exchange yesterday on CNBC between Russ Choma, of American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop, and Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA.) At issue was the ICR’s recent report that $1.6 billion of federal stimulus funds for wind energy projects has ultimately ended up in the coffers of foreign firms.

A fierce debate exists over whether $1.6 billion in tax credits for the American wind energy industry should continue to go towards the production of wind turbines constructed of 50 percent foreign-made materials.

If you check out the video, two things stand out: 1) Bode’s serious overreaction and 2) the simple fact that American wind turbines are constructed with nearly 50% foreign-made materials. Bode was loath to admit this, particularly as the American wind industry is currently allotted – though not necessarily accepting, as I’ve written previously – huge tax credits for building new wind farms.

“By law, 100 percent of the money in the stimulus act went to U.S. wind farms with American workers,” Bode told CNBC.

Neither Choma nor Bode are wrong. Right now, according to Choma, only two companies in the U.S. manufacture wind turbine parts – and as Bode pointed out, 8,000 parts are needed to construct a turbine. It is clear, however, that Choma and his colleagues are merely trying to raise a valid concern – if the federal government truly wants to make an investment in renewable energy economy, then the manufacturing base for these outputs must be grown. Why grow an industry without growing our human capital and capacity to innovate along with it?

–Mia Lamar


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