The Green Supply Chain


"The goal of the stimulus was to spur job creation here, not overseas."

A major selling point for the green jobs movement has been the near guarantee that renewable energy and green tech sector jobs will be tied to U.S. soilówind farm technicians and solar panel installers in China or India can't service turbines in Iowa and roofs in California.

The resulting theology of the green energy movement is that investments in alternative energy will yield millions of new U.S. jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.

But Sen. Charles Schumer's, D-N.Y., recent irritation over a proposed Texas wind project eligible to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funding has shown just how erroneous this thinking is.

The $1.5 billion wind farm would span 36,000 acres and generate enough electricity to power 135,000 to 180,000 American homes annually. Big investments in renewable energy and wind turbines hardly sound controversial. But the problem, for Schumer, is that the projectóa JV between China's Shenyang Power Group, Texas-based Cielo Wind Power and the U.S. Renewable Energy Groupówill yield more job creation in China than the U.S.

"I'm all for investing in clean energy, but we should be investing in the U.S., not China," Schumer said. "The goal of the stimulus was to spur job creation here, not overseas. . ."

Under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Energy Department can distribute cash grants equal to 30% of a company's investment in a new renewable energy project. This would enable Texas-based Cielo to tap around $450 million in federal grants.

The Energy Department's solicitation for project proposals explicitly says "foreign ownership or sponsorship" of a project "is permissible" so long as the project is located in one of the 50 states, D.C. or a U.S. territory. Companies are also free to pick their own suppliers, though the number of domestic jobs created by each project is taken into consideration.

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