This year we’ve heard a lot about record construction numbers in the wind energy industry. That translates into a hiring surge in the 43 states with jobs in the turbine manufacturing supply chain.
Illustrating how multiple steps in the value chain are affected, two bits of news have come from a highly visible company at the top of the supply chain (read: an original equipment manufacturer, or turbine OEM), and another company not quite as well known which resides a link away in the chain.
Headlines in Colorado and elsewhere are reporting that Vestas now has 800 open positions in Colorado. The company expects to have more than 2,800 employees in the state by the end of the year, according to the Denver Business Journal—1,500 more than at the start of the year. That's the exciting result of multiple turbine orders announced in recent weeks and months.
Photo courtesy of Vestas
Such news ripples through a supply chain that produces some 8,000 components that go into a modern wind turbine. Tower maker Nello Corp. is getting approval from a local planning commission to build a new factory in South Bend, Ind. The company expects to hire 600 workers for the plant.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently was talking about the economic benefits of renewable energy in his home state of Nevada, citing the “thousands and thousands" of jobs it creates.
Such news puts America in the midst of a global trend. Earlier this month, North American Windpower reported that data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that renewable energy may be home to as many as 6.5 million jobs today.
IRENA provided a cautionary note with respect to the U.S. market, among others. The number of wind jobs has risen and fallen with repeated short-term extensions of the Production Tax Credit, the agency noted, followed by a period in which developers don’t know what the rules will be for future wind projects and so can’t move forward.
And so, as the summer weeks pass here in the U.S. and the industry revs up to offer a glimpse of what it can do for America in jobs and electricity generation, it still faces the countervailing effects of policy uncertainty. So it’s time again to take action.
That way, wind can continue creating jobs and economic prosperity throughout the USA.