In this entry in our "A Brighter Future" series we highlight how the renewable energy industry provides good, American jobs in areas that might not immediately come to mind.
You might not think of Duluth, MN as a haven of wind energy jobs, but the truth is that workers at the port in that city understand how important wind energy is to them when they’re shipping blades and components through the Great Lakes. Yesterday I was in Duluth, on the shore of Lake Superior on a beautiful summer day, with local environmental and labor leaders from the Sierra Club, United Steelworkers and other unions to call on Congressmen Chip Cravaack from Minnesota and Sean Duffy from Wisconsin to push for and support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind power. If this 2.2-cent per kilowatt hour tax credit isn’t extended, America could lose half the jobs in its wind industry and part of the reason the Duluth port has been so bustling will be a distant memory.
Workers at the event focused not just on the local job impact, but on the larger impact to Minnesota, Wisconsin and the rest of America. Ray Pierce, Jr., a member of United Steelworkers Local 6115 said, “Every one of these wind turbines consists of 8,000 parts and 200 tons of steel. And, when you consider that since 2005 the domestic content in American wind turbines has grown from less than 25 percent domestic content to 60 percent in 2011, that’s a lot of jobs for workers from Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as workers throughout the U.S.”
The impact won’t just be felt economically, it will be felt environmentally, according to John Doberstein, an Executive Committee member of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “The wind power installed in Minnesota will avoid 5.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. In Wisconsin, wind avoids 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. For Congressmen Cravaack and Duffy, this should be a no-brainer.”
Katie Gulley is a Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance