AWEA CEO Denise Bode and Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard yesterday announced a “Framework Agreement to create a Partnership for Progress” aimed at increasing U.S. manufacturing of wind turbine components.
In making the announcement, the two were joined by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, who pledged to work to get his fellow members of Congress to enact a national renewable electricity standard, a key goal of the partnership. The other major goal of the partnership is to increase the percentage of domestic components used by the U.S. wind industry.
The framework announcement has been months in the making. Early in 2010, Brown and other Senators introduced legislation that. in effect, would prohibit the U.S. Treasury from awarding financial incentives to wind projects that used any foreign components. The proposed legislation, which has not been enacted, prompted intense discussions among labor, the wind industry and key members of Congress to develop a plan that would include voluntary targets for domestic manufacturing for U.S. wind projects.
The wind industry has argued for several years that it is increasing the amount of domestic manufacturing—it is now nearly 50%–but that it cannot happen overnight.
AWEA’s Bode said, “Our partnership recognizes that, at this time of continuing economic uncertainty and while we are still in the early stages of development of the wind energy sector, support in terms of public policy initiatives is vital…We need to be less dependent on fossil fuels.”
Gerard said, “The Framework Agreement we’re announcing is the beginning of a road map to help ensure that our nation makes real progress in developing alternative and renewable sources of energy production on a scale that is commensurate with its vast potential.”
Sen. Brown noted that “This agreement will make [it possible} for Congress to do a good bit more” for wind energy, including a renewable electricity standard.
The framework sets the stage for specific actions aimed at increasing U.S. wind manufacturing, including an assessment of current U.S. manufacturing, agreement on targets for increased manufacturing in the future, a policy partnership that includes support for a renewable electricity standard and ensures a sufficient supply of trained wind workers, and periodic assessments to “ensure that the effort stays on track,” according to Gerard.
The details of those targets and the policy agenda are still being worked out, but today’s announcement puts both AWEA and the Steelworkers on record in support of common objectives.