“This renewable energy movement is a jobs movement” said John Grabner, President and CEO of Cardinal Fastener. Cardinal Fastener is the company that President Obama visited on his way to his 2009 Inauguration and where he talked about stimulating the economy by building a clean energy economy. Under Grabner’s direction, the company has expanded into supplying nuts and bolts to the wind industry; its wind division has grown from 2 people in January 2009 to 12 today and brings in about 50% of the company’s revenue. Grabner said wind energy employment at Cardinal could reach 50 people in a year and a half.
“Congress in the next several weeks is going to be pulling together an energy bill,” said AWEA COO Britt Theismann. “Now is the time. These jobs can be ours to get, or to lose.” Before the panel discussion, Theismann and the other participants toured the Cardinal Fastener facility with some of the people working in wind energy manufacturing—workers like Ferando Green, with whom many AWEA members are familiar from his appearance on the cover page of AWEA’s Annual Report and in a video calling for action on an RES.
Great Lakes Wind Network Director Ed West told the audience that “manufacturers are hungry… When you drive around the area you don’t see many businesses that say ‘wind’ in their name," and you don’t see many wind turbines yet, he said. “But each day Ohio companies and others in the region are making precision tools and a variety of components for wind turbines, and they are revitalizing our manufacturing industry.”
Susan Nickey, CFO of Acciona, said that within two years of opening a new assembly facility in Iowa, Acciona has built up a supply chain that reached 60% domestic content in 2009 and will reach 90% by the end of this year. The company’s goal, she said, is to get to 100%.
“We need a long term policy, a stable policy for renewable energy, and a national RES needs to be the centerpiece of that,” she said. “Put effective policies in place and the rest will come.” Nickey added that Spain has put renewable energy policies in place that have allowed the wind farm sector there to prosper and build up powerful manufacturing capabilities. Based on Spain’s example, and the fact that the U.S. energy market is large and in need of cleaning up, “20% [wind-generated electricity] is possible, and achievable.”
By Christine Real de Azua, www.awea.org/blog/