Dispute Over Stimulus-Funded, China-Made Wind Turbines Settled with Plans for New Factory in US
Investment firm U.S. Renewable Energy Group and Chinese turbine maker A-Power Energy Generation Systems announced this week that they had agreed to build “a new production and assembly plant in the Unites States that will supply highly advanced wind energy turbines to renewable energy projects throughout North and South America,” the New York Times reported on Wednesday. The announcement follows the public opposition of Sen. Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) to the use of federal stimulus dollars to help the companies build a $1.5 billion wind farm in West Texas, because its 240 turbines would be built in China by A-Power.
Kyle Hammond wrote on HeatingOil.com that the senator called on President Obama to refuse stimulus funds to any project that would require manufacturing outside the U.S. In addition, many Americans are concerned that jobs created by this project would go to China. Stating that the stimulus money is supposed to create jobs for U.S. workers, Schumer vowed to introduce legislation that blocks such funding if action was not taken, Hammond said.
A-Power Director and Chief Operating Officer John S. Lin said in an e-mail that the proposed plant would not make turbines for the West Texas wind farm, according to The Times. Ed Cunningham, a managing director of U.S. Renewable Energy Group, told the paper that the Texas wind farm had always planned to obtain about 86% of its components, as measured by weight, from the U.S. Only the nacelles, high-value components containing the turbine’s gearbox, would come from China.
The new plant, which would cost about $50 million and employ about 1,000 workers, would assemble nacelles for turbines in the U.S. A-Power and U.S. Renewable Energy Group have a memorandum of understanding to identify a location for the plant, on which construction is scheduled to begin next year, said Lin.
Senator Schumer supports the new U.S. turbine plant. “This is exactly what stimulus funding ought to do: create and strengthen green manufacturing jobs in America,” he wrote in an e-mail. However, “We still maintain no stimulus money should be used to manufacture wind turbines in China.”