Dallas investor, Chinese partners propose
U.S. wind turbine plant
Nov 18, 2009 - Jim Landers - The Dallas
WASHINGTON – Dallas investor Cappy McGarr said Tuesday
that his Chinese partners in a $1.5 billion West Texas wind energy farm proposed
last month have agreed to build a turbine manufacturing plant in the United States.
"It should create U.S. jobs, obviously, on an ongoing basis for production
but also construction," McGarr said, "so we're pleased A-Power [Energy Generation
Systems Ltd. of China] decided to do this."
McGarr offered few details,
but the announcement may help the project gain $480 million in federal support
from the Obama administration's economic stimulus program. Some members of Congress
have criticized the wind farm project as a jobs boon for China, where thousands
of workers would assemble the project's 240 wind turbines.
wind farm would create about 330 construction and maintenance jobs in Texas.
Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu earlier this month
criticizing the proposed wind farm.
"This project should not receive a
dime of stimulus funds unless it relies on American-built products rather than
Chinese turbines," Schumer wrote.
Chu wrote back Friday, pointing out that
under the stimulus law, the project would involve tax credits "available to all
qualifying entities" rather than money handed out at the discretion of the Energy
Chu also wrote Schumer that "manufacturers will not build plants
here and grow their production capacity here unless there is domestic demand,
and, until recently, that was not the case."
U.S. Renewable Energy Group,
in which McGarr is a managing partner, said the U.S.-based turbine factory would
employ "approximately 1,000 American workers." McGarr said no location has been
A-Power, which trades on the Nasdaq under the listing APWR, hedged
Tuesday's announcement with a long "safe harbor" statement noting that several
hurdles remain, including financing and consent from A-Power's European technology
Given those barriers, it appeared unlikely that a new A-Power
factory would be built in the U.S. in time to supply the Texas wind farm project
and would instead supply other future wind farms.
McGarr said the agreement
to build a U.S.-based factory had "nothing to do with" winning federal support
for the wind farm.
"This has been in the works for a long time," he said.
Schumer saw it differently.
"This is exactly what stimulus funding
ought to do: create and strengthen green manufacturing jobs in America, even if
that slightly slows renewable energy production as we play catch-up to countries
like China," he said. "We still maintain no stimulus money should be used to manufacture
wind turbines in China."