WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined the United Steelworkers (USW) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today as they announced a new partnership to make the U.S. a leader in wind energy.
"We can't replace our dependence on foreign oil with a dependence on Chinese-made wind turbines. It's critical that American manufacturers have the resources to develop and deploy wind energy components" Brown said. "Clean energy will help America regain its leadership in manufacturing. We need to ensure American workers and manufacturers are building the clean energy components that will be used around the world."
The two groups released a framework agreement creating a "Partnership for Progress" to accelerate the development and deployment of wind energy manufacturing in the U.S. The partnership follows intervention from Brown and other senators in March, when a new report was released revealing that a clean-energy grant program in the Recovery Act paid out more than $1 billion to foreign manufacturers.
At that time, Brown began communicating with the Obama Administration, USW, and AWEA to lay the framework for more domestic sourcing of clean energy technology. Brown also joined his colleagues to introduce the American Renewable Energy Jobs Act, legislation which would ensure that grant money distributed through the "1603" wind energy program is given only to clean energy projects that preserve and create jobs in the United States.
The new legislation would make projects that do not have a substantial job impact in the United States, ineligible for stimulus dollars. Under the "Buy American" provision contained in the ARRA, government projects financed in part by the stimulus must, with few exceptions, rely on iron, steel and manufactured goods produced in the United States. But the provision does not impose a similar requirement on private projects, that seek stimulus grants. The proposal announced by the four senators today would apply the "Buy America" standard to all renewable energy projects, no matter public or private, that seek stimulus funds. The proposal also would ensure that grant money is distributed only to renewable energy projects that preserve and create jobs in the United States.
More than 70 percent of the components of clean energy systems are produced outside the U.S. Brown is fighting to bolster domestic production of clean energy components and to make Ohio the Silicon Valley of Clean Energy Manufacturing. In May, Sen. Brown introduced legislation that would expand and improve the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (48C) program. The Security in Energy and Manufacturing (SEAM) Act would extend the program and allow for grants in lieu of tax credits. This would enable the program to reach additional companies that would otherwise be unable to utilize the program - new companies that do not yet have tax liabilities or companies that struggle to find credit in today's tight financial market. The SEAM Act also adjusts the selection criteria to give higher priority to facilities that manufacture - rather than assemble - goods and components in the U.S.
Brown is the author of the Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology (IMPACT) Act of 2009, legislation incorporated in the House-passed clean energy bill that would create a $30 billion revolving loan program to help auto suppliers and other small and mid-sized manufacturers retool for the clean energy industry. Brown's bill would also expand the focus of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to include support for manufacturers transitioning to the clean energy economy. A report released in February estimates that Brown's IMPACT Act could create more than 52,000 jobs in Ohio.