An industry group, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), has launched an effort this week to support such a standard and to urge lawmakers to create an energy-production tax credit. The group says such moves would go a long way toward putting people who have lost their automotive jobs back to work.
The organization, which says wind power grew 50% in 2008 -- an amount roughly the size of Nebraska's installed capacity, or two million homes -- argues that wind farm projects could create hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and billions in revenue. Per AWEA, the wind industry last year created 35,000 new jobs and generated $17 billion in economic investment.
To back the argument, AWEA has launched a series of documentary-type Web videos, and TV and print ads in its push to raise awareness about wind energy with a pragmatic pitch that suggests auto's loss is wind's gain.
Ads in The Washington Post and on NBC's "Meet the Press" show American workers -- many that it says were former employees of the U.S. automotive industry -- working at Cardinal Fastener, a Bedford Heights, Ohio-based firm that makes bolts for wind turbines and other industrial products. The association says 55 such facilities were built last year to support the growth in wind energy technology.
The commercial shows people on the factory floor doing iron work to fashion bolts and fittings, cut with footage of gigantic turbines being lifted into place on cranes and spinning in the wind on mountain ridges. The effort urges people to go to wwwPowerofWind.com and urge Congress to pass renewable electricity standards.
The webisodes comprise interviews in the Cardinal plant with workers who lost jobs in the auto sector. One has an operator -- a thread roller -- talking about how he lost his job at an auto supplier. "When I started there, we had 120 employees," he says. "When I was finally let go, they were down to twenty. For a person of my age, it was devastating knowing that there was a possibility there wasn't going to be another job."
In the video, Cardinal's president John Grabner likens the wind industry's potential growth to that of the auto business in better times. "This is an industry starting with nothing and growing to big, big numbers," he says. Another employee ties it to the environment and less reliance on foreign oil. "I love to go fishing, so I like clean water for my fish."