It’s All About Jobs…
Energy and environmental issues were among the hot topics in the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. Obama said repeatedly that energy would be a top priority in his administration. He also listed energy as one of his top three concerns. “We are going to have to deal with energy because we can’t keep on borrowing from the Chinese and sending money to Saudi Arabia. We are mortgaging our children’s future. We’ve got to have a different energy plan,” he said.
Under Obama’s proposed plan to “invest in a clean energy economy,” $150 billion would be invested over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, invest in clean coal plants, begin transition to a new digital electricity grid and promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. “Our goal should be, in 10 year’s time, we are free of dependence on Middle Eastern oil,” said Obama. During the debate he went on to add that, “It is absolutely critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily, here in the United States. It can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades.”
McCain also said repeatedly that the United States must achieve energy independence. According to McCain, two vital elements of U.S. energy independence include drilling offshore and nuclear power. “We can work on nuclear power plants. Build a whole bunch of them, create millions of new jobs,” he said when asked what would be his top priority as president. McCain added, however, that alternative fuels, solar, natural gas and clean coal technology and wind must also be a part of U.S. energy independence.
Rapid Growth in Wind Market
Already, wind has emerged as one of the fastest growing source of renewable energy around the world. In fact, the state of New Jersey recently revealed an ambitious plan to become a world leader in the use of wind-generated energy over the next four years. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine announced his goal to triple the amount of wind power generated by the state by 2020 to 3,000 megawatts – or 13% of New Jersey’s total energy, enough to power between 800,000 to nearly 1 million homes. “We listened closely to our stakeholders, considered current economic conditions and the dynamic state of offshore wind technology, and we knew we had to go a lot further, said Corzine in a statement. “Today, I am announcing that we’re not just doubling our commitment, we’re tripling it. New Jersey will support and encourage the development of 3,000 MW of wind power off its coast by 2020, which will be 13% of its total electricity. And we will get to 1,000 MW by 2012.”
Corzine’s news comes at a time when the credit crisis is roiling financial markets and financial and energy issues are among the top issued on the national political agenda. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), however, wind power holds promise for the future of the U.S. economy. “Amidst the general turmoil, there remains a great deal of interest in renewable energy. It’s important to note that industries that perform well through tight economic stretches tend to perform even better when recovery occurs. Once the financial dust settles, I would not be surprised to see renewable energy be one of the key leaders in the new economy. ”
In revealing his offshore wind goal, Corzine notes that economic development and job creation are the driving forces behind his plans. “We want to create this generation’s race to the moon, but this time, a race to the sea, to harness this potential wind source off of our coasts, and bring economic development, environmental benefits, and new, green jobs to the Garden State,” said Corzine. According to Corzine, the project could create as many as 500 new jobs, with twice that amount during construction and installation of the giant turbines. The state Board of Public Utilities has set aside $19 million for wind farm grants.
Last week, Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint venture of PSE&G Renewable Generation and Deepwater Wind, was chosen to build a $1 billion, 345 megawatt wind farm in the ocean about 16 miles southeast of Atlantic City. That plant would be able to power about 125,000 homes. There are currently no offshore wind power projects anywhere in the U.S., although two others have already been approved for areas off Rhode Island and Delaware, according to the AP.
Renewable Energy Biz Gets a Needed Boost
The lobbying efforts of renewable energy businesses recently paid off on Capitol Hill. The extension of the production and investment tax credits that benefit their industries were approved by Congress as part of the $700 billion bail-out package for the financial industry. The tax credit package will extend the renewable energy production tax credit for one year and the investment tax credit for eight years. The extensions will be partly paid for by a change in the tax code for the oil and gas industry. By passing this bill, Congress has finally given the wind industry ‘policy certainty’ that will attract investment, expand manufacturing and lower costs.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca) also notes the extension of the tax cuts is also about jobs. The Environment News Service quotes, Pelosi as saying she is “pleased that the bill includes an extension of tax cuts for clean renewable energy that will create and save half a million good-paying paying jobs in America immediately.” Pelosi adds, “We fought hard to include these critical tax cuts … because they are central to job creation,” Pelosi said.
Greg Wetstone, senior director of governmental and public affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement, “We salute Members of Congress in both parties who fought under difficult conditions to keep the renewable energy production tax credit and small turbine investment tax credit on the agenda until the very end, and then pushed them across the finish line.”
Sustainable Business.com quotes Greg Wetstone, Senior Director of Governmental and Public Affairs at the American Wind Energy Association as saying, “These tax credits are essential to the continued growth of wind energy, to the economic and energy security of the United States, and to a successful beginning in the fight against global warming. We look forward to working next year with a new Congress and administration to fashion a serious long-term clean energy policy that increases domestic energy, increases our reliance on clean renewable energy, and creates jobs for Americans.”
Future of Wind Power
The Department of Energy contends that wind power is capable of becoming a major contributor to America’s electricity supply over the next three decades. The DOE says that achieving a 20% wind contribution to U.S. electricity supply would:
- Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation by 25% in 2030
- Reduce natural gas use by 11%
- Reduce water consumption associated with electricity generation by 4 trillion gallons by 2030
- Increase annual revenues to local communities to more than $1.5 billion by 2030
- Support roughly 500,000 jobs in the U.S.
Under the DOE’s 20% wind scenario, installations of new wind power capacity would increase to more than 16,000 megawatts per year by 2018, and continue at that rate through 2030.
Investing in Wind
Globally, rapid growth is predicted in the wind market and the United States is one of three nation’s leading future growth in the industry, reports Reuters. In fact, the Department of Energy projects that wind power is capable of becoming a major contributor to America’s electricity supply over the next three decades.
Babcock & Brown recently announced the closing of financing and commencement of construction of its 79.5 megawatt (MW) Majestic Wind Farm near Panhandle, Texas, northeast of Amarillo. The project is expected to finish construction and reach full commercial operation before the end of the year.
Private equity firm, Blackstone plans to invest more than $1.57 billion in a project to build wind farms in the North Sea to generate electricity, reports Reuters, citing people familiar with the matter. Blackstone plans to take a stake in the “Meerwind” project to build some 80 wind farms off with a capacity of 400 megawatts off the German island of Helgoland, sources say.
Meanwhile, GE Energy Financial Services recently announced it will invest a total of $100 million in three wind farms under construction in northern and western New York. The unit of GE revealed a goal of investing $6 billion in renewable energy by 2010. Now, with this latest investment, GE Energy Financial Services surpasses the $4 billion mark.
Executive search firm, A.E. Feldman, reports it’s still very early, but interest in alternative energy is absolutely growing and attention to the sector will only increase. One industry veteran recruiting for the firm says, “Very few people understand green technologies yet but the wealth of individuals and institutional investors getting involved is enormously high.” As a result, A.E. Feldman says investment professionals who understand the burgeoning industry and can funnel money into these businesses are hot commodities.
“The U.S. wind power industry is a bright spot in our economy,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “Every megawatt of installed wind power creates employment in manufacturing, construction and operations as well as jobs in advertising, office support, environmental assessment and other related professions. America’s vast wind resources have barely been tapped, and we have only just begun to see wind’s potential to generate broad economic growth.”
Right now, A.E. Feldman, a leading recruiter in the areas of finance and energy and clean-tech, is one step ahead of the latest developments in renewable and green technology, invites firms to contact its President, Mitch Feldman, its CEO, Carol Schwam, and its highly specialized team of executive recruiters directly to open up a dialogue about the array of issues they face and those they anticipate in the future. Facing a difficult economic climate, job seekers are also encouraged to inquire about existing and future job opportunities. According to Mitch Feldman, “Our lines of communication are open.” Contact Mitch Feldman, and the firm’s expert recruiting teams here.