Monday, March 15, 2010

Nevada Wind Turbine Factory to Create 1,000 Jobs, Backers Say

A consortium of Chinese and American renewable energy firms said last week that they had chosen Nevada as the location of a 320,000-square-foot wind turbine manufacturing and assembly plant.

The turbine plant, whose precise site has yet to be announced, will create an estimated 1,000 long-term manufacturing jobs in the state and is expected to be up and running by 2011.

Two companies leading the development of the Nevada facility, A-Power Energy Generation Systems, a Chinese renewable energy technology manufacturer, and the U.S. Renewable Energy Group, a private equity firm, are also key players in a controversial $1.5 billion, 600-megawatt wind farm project under way in West Texas.

That project, announced last year, came under fire after it was revealed that its backers planned to tap $450 million in grants from the economic stimulus package, even though the turbines would be manufactured and assembled in Shenyang, China.

The companies subsequently said that at least 70 percent of the turbine components for the Texas wind farm would be manufactured in the United States. Now it appears some turbines for the Texas project may come from the Nevada facility.

“If the Nevada plant is operational before all the turbines for the 600 megawatt Texas wind farm have been delivered, the remaining turbines could be supplied from the Nevada plant,” Ed Cunningham, managing partner of the U.S. Renewable Energy Group, said in a statement.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, along with three other Democratic senators, recently introduced legislation that would apply a so-called “buy American” standard to all renewable energy projects that seek stimulus funds, requiring them to rely on goods manufactured in the United States.

Currently, this provision applies only to government-sponsored projects. As a result, roughly three-quarters of the stimulus’s $1.9 billion in wind-energy grants distributed so far have gone to foreign-owned companies, according to an analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop, a nonprofit journalism program affiliated with American University.

Matt Rogers, a senior adviser to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, confirmed that this analysis was likely accurate, but said that although the stimulus funds may have gone to foreign companies, the funds created 17,000 United States jobs and supported investments in the United States worth roughly $10 billion.

The Nevada project does not appear to be seeking stimulus funds, with its backers stating that it will be built using private financing.

A spokesman for A-Power and the U.S. Renewable Energy Group also said the companies had not yet received — or even applied for — any stimulus funds for the West Texas wind farm project.

New York Times

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