NEW YORK—U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) has urged the Obama administration to block any stimulus money from being used for a proposed wind farm in West Texas that plans to use only wind turbines made in China.
Initiators of the $1.5 billion, 36,000-acre wind farm have applied for $450 million in U.S. stimulus funds, said Sen. Schumer at a press conference on Monday.
“This might well be a worthy use of stimulus money except for one important fact, the turbines will all be manufactured in China,” Schumer said.
According to the senator, the project is expected to generate up to 3,000 jobs in Shenyang, China, but only a few dozen permanent jobs in the United States.
“It will only create 330 jobs here in the U.S., and 300 of them are temporary, they are the ones to install the towers,” Schumer said.
This particular wind farm is just one example of a larger trend in stimulus money slipping into the hands of foreign companies. Since Sept. 1 the U.S. government has doled out over $1 billion in clean-energy grants, with 84 percent of that funding going to foreign wind companies, according to the Investigative Reporting Workshop.
The U.S. Renewable Energy group and Cielo Wind Power LP announced in an Oct. 29 press release a joint venture agreement with China’s Shenyang Power Group. A shareholder of the Shenyang Power Group has been designated the supplier of the 240 wind turbine units.
“Without the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, this joint venture with SPG would not be possible,” said Cielo Wind Power LP vice president of Finance and Business Development in an Oct. 29 press statement.
The planned wind farm, which is expected to break ground in March, would create enough energy to power 135,000 to 180,000 American homes every year.
Schumer said that when he voted in favor of the bill it was to create jobs in America, and to bolster America’s clean energy sector. “We weren’t voting to support jobs in China. Our domestic clean energy sector has the potential to emerge as the global leader, both wind turbines and solar panels were invented and perfected here in the U.S.,” Schumer said.
“So why the heck, would we spend $350 million to encourage manufacturing in China,” Schumer said.
China is fast emerging as one of the United States’ main rivals in the race to build green technology, according to Schumer’s office.
“We should not be giving China a head start in this race at our own country’s expense,” he said in a press statement.
Schumer has asked U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to review all the stimulus funds for green energy to ensure that they are used for jobs in America.
Leo Gerard, president of United Steel Workers (USW), said in statement, “It is the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It’s not the Chinese Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”