Wind Power - "Don’t be changing your college curriculums to prepare for it"

I have a feeling we're not in Kansas which is ranked # 3 in the nation in wind potential, versus # 19 for Maine.
If the #3 wind state should not be leading its youth down a dead end path self-servingly promoted by subsidy-grabbing wind industry insiders who care not for our youth, what does that say for state # 19, Maine?
Let's hear from some economists in Maine no longer beholden to the wind-happy Baldacci administration or any wind-happy leftovers from that administration. Economists whose conception of a strong Maine economy is rooted in reality and does not equate to panhandling for ill conceived federal subsidies.
Feb. 15, 2011

Goal of many more ‘green’ jobs is elusive


The Kansas City Star

Kansas has set its sights on creating 10,000 green jobs, many of them from manufacturing and assembling the parts for wind energy turbines.
The state’s big bet on wind power has attracted a few hundred jobs so far. But even that success shows the huge challenge Kansas faces.
To turn a few hundred jobs into thousands, Kansas has to win big manufacturing projects and attract the companies that supply them, too. And that means beating out China and other foreign competitors who rule those markets.
“We need to temper our expectations on wind energy,” said David Swenson, an Iowa State University economist known for deflating the ethanol industry’s job claims. Now, he says, the same “environment of hype” is developing around wind power.
Kansas’ biggest successes so far — and the reasons to be cautious — can be found in Hutchinson.
Over the last couple of decades, the town lost thousands of jobs and was disappointed in its efforts to lure new companies. But that luck changed in 2009 when Siemens Energy announced it would build a plant in Hutchinson.
The news of the assembly plant’s coming electrified residents, including William Long. He has a clothing store there and has been worried about the town’s future.
“This is a real shot in the arm,” he said.
The plant already has 130 employees and, when operating at full speed by 2012, is expected to have 400 workers.
The Siemens plant assembles parts that go into the nacelle of a wind turbine, which includes the generator, gearboxes, drive train and electronic controls. The RV-size nacelles each weigh 92 tons and measure 12 feet wide and 38 feet long.
When the Siemens plant opened in December, Sam Brownback, then the governor-elect, said: “I look forward to all the ways my home state of Kansas will take the lead on increasing national access to wind energy as we continue to grow the Kansas economy and create jobs.”
The plant was a big victory for a strategy pushed by Brownback’s predecessor, Gov. Mark Parkinson, that realized early on that manufacturing was the only place to find many green jobs.
Wind farms themselves, which now dot the state, don’t provide that much work.
In one study, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., figured that building a utility-scale wind farm with dozens of turbines created just 67 construction jobs. And the operation and maintenance of the wind farm would take only about a half-dozen people.
But the wind turbine manufacturers and their supply chain for such a wind farm would contribute more than 300 jobs, the energy lab estimated. And a well-located plant would have a good prospect of supplying more wind farms as they were built.
Kansas’ place in the center of the country’s prime wind energy territory was one of the reasons Siemens picked Hutchinson. The move quickly paid off when an Iowa utility recently placed a big order for 258 nacelles.
But Hutchinson’s hopes — and the state’s — also ride on drawing the companies that will supply the Siemens plant and others like it in the state.
If that happens, how many jobs could be created?
Wichita State University’s Center for Economic Development and Business Research says plant jobs like the one in Hutchinson will create at least twice as many additional jobs, from suppliers and others who benefit from the extra money rippling through the state’s economy.
By that math, the Hutchinson plant at full capacity with 400 employees would create an additional 800 jobs.
Kansas also has persuaded a few other manufacturers to announce plans to open plants elsewhere in the state. Add those projects to the Hutchinson plant and the estimate grows to a total of 1,200 direct jobs and an additional 2,400 jobs from suppliers and others.
Not bad — but not huge in a state with a civilian labor force of 1.5 million and 102,600 unemployed job seekers at last count.
And it’s not clear that even that number of jobs will emerge, especially in the supply chain for the main plants.
Draka, a Dutch cable supplier, is opening a plant in Hutchinson that will employ up to 20 people. But so far it is the only one to be announced, although the town hopes others will follow.
“We’re still waiting for it to happen, but in a year or two if it doesn’t, there will be disappointment,” said Tom Arnhold, a Hutchinson lawyer.
Siemens isn’t giving specifics on the origin of the parts being assembled at its Hutchinson plant.
But it wouldn’t be unusual if the plant ended up assembling expensive parts made overseas. That’s what a lot of U.S. wind energy plants do.
The clout of China and other lower-cost manufacturing countries in the wind market showed up in an analysis by the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University.
That group found that more than 80 percent of $1 billion in federal stimulus grants for wind projects went to foreign countries. One of the projects, a $1.5 billion wind farm in Texas, expected to collect $450 million in stimulus money — but use wind turbines made in China.
Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and other federal officials were furious.
“Very few jobs here, lots of jobs in China,” Schumer said. “That is not what I intended or any other legislator who voted for the stimulus intended.”
Another disappointment has been the pay for many of the wind industry jobs that do stay in the United States.
Wages around $16 an hour were expected by some when the Siemens plant opened in Hutchinson. But that was averaging the plant’s $11- to $20-an-hour wages, and Siemens won’t say how many of the jobs pay the $11 starting wage.
That wage would give a family of five an income at the federal poverty level, sparking comment on the Hutchinson News newspaper’s website.
One commenter said Siemens was taking advantage of a state that is “land of the ones willing to work for low pay.” That view was countered by another who wrote that any job was better than nothing, and “people are smart to take what they can get.”
Emil Ramirez, with the United Steelworkers Union, said he believed Kansas had a future in wind energy, including taking advantage of facilities abandoned by airplane manufacturers. But he was taken aback at the starting wage at the Siemens plant, which his union is not seeking to organize.
A glimpse of what’s ahead for Kansas might be found in Iowa, which has been more aggressive than Kansas in building wind farms and attracting the manufacturing, including a wind turbine factory.
Some of the manufacturers have offered wages as low as $9 an hour, and employment levels have at times been volatile. A blade manufacturer in Newton, Iowa, laid off hundreds of employees last year because of poor sales before eventually hiring most of them back by the end of the year.
About five years into recruiting wind energy manufacturers, Iowa can point to about 1,600 people employed by them in a state of 1.6 million employed.
“Don’t be changing your college curriculums to prepare for it,” said Swenson, the Iowa State economist.
And there’s some advice from Howard, S.D. In the 1990s it started developing wind energy and became a national model for how to use clean energy to help revive a small town. But it hasn’t been easy, and there have been setbacks.
Many of Howard’s jobs were provided by a blade manufacturer, but last year that company left. Now the town’s industrial park employs 42 people instead of 133. Town officials are talking to other wind energy companies, hoping they’ll move in.
“One of the realities is to always be paying attention,” said Kathy Callies, vice president of the Rural Learning Center in Howard.

So what is a green job?
Kansas officials have trumpeted that the state already has 20,000 green jobs — and hopes for 10,000 more, many from manufacturing and assembly work for generating wind power. But so far, most of the jobs in that count by the state Department of Labor have been around for years, including carpenters installing energy-efficient windows and plumbers putting in toilets that don’t use much water. Even maids, if they use green products, are classified as green-collar workers.
Here are the top jobs the state currently lists as green:

Jobs Number Example of work
Carpenters 2,419 Installing energy-efficient windows and siding
HVAC mechanics and installers 1,361 Installing energy-efficient heating and cooling units
Construction laborers 1,315 Installing erosion control
Landscaping 1,252 Planting trees
Assemblers and fabricators 1,199 Fabricating glass for solar projects
Plumbers, pipefitters 1,114 Installing water softeners, low-flush toilets
Auto mechanics 777 Installing energy-efficient auto filters
Maids, housekeepers 698 Using only green-certified cleaning products
Operating engineers, equipment operators 577 Installing solar and geothermal systems
Insulation workers 469 Weatherizing homes
All others 8,864  

To reach Steve Everly, call 816-234-4455 or send e-mail to


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Hannah Pingree on the Maine expedited wind law

Hannah Pingree - Director of Maine's Office of Innovation and the Future

"Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine."


Maine as Third World Country:

CMP Transmission Rate Skyrockets 19.6% Due to Wind Power


Click here to read how the Maine ratepayer has been sold down the river by the Angus King cabal.

Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT


(excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010 Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?" Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.”

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