Report

AP: Environment, business groups tout renewable energy jobs

CHICAGO (AP) – A Chicago-based environmental group has released a report on the economic impact of renewable energy in Illinois.

Environmental Law & Policy Center officials said Monday that more than 400 Illinois companies are involved in the wind and solar energy markets, representing more than 20,000 jobs in everything from manufacturing to financing to engineering.

The study comes as legislators consider a bill that would require the state to buy more energy from renewable sources. The bill would also create new energy-efficiency standards for Illinois utilities to reduce electricity demand 20 percent by 2025. Proponents say that could help create thousands of new jobs every year.

Elise Houren is government relations manager at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. She says a robust renewable energy sector will help Chicago attract new companies.

Midwest Energy News: Wind and solar supply chains thrive in Midwest states

Wind and solar energy support about 30,000 jobs at about a thousand companies in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, according to a series of reports released by the Environmental Law & Policy Center over the past two weeks.

The reports show the jobs created not only by the manufacture of wind turbine components, the building of wind farms and the installation of solar panels, but also in related businesses from banking to making cables and glass.

“We continue to be impressed by the robustness and the diversity of these jobs,” said ELPC executive director Howard Learner. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all. There are headquarters and manufacturing and construction jobs, retrofitting jobs, legal and insurance jobs, design and engineering, it’s really a diverse mix of skills for all types of companies.”

The ELPC is a member of RE-AMP, which publishesMidwest Energy News.

The supply chains have remained robust even as wind and solar have faced policy uncertainty at the state and federal level.

The ELPC and other groups say the renewal of the federal Production Tax Credit is crucial to future wind development and its supply chain impacts. The Siemens wind turbine blade plant in Fort Madison, Iowa laid off more than 400 of its 660 employees in 2012 because of uncertainty over the PTC. Many of those workers were rehired when the PTC was extended, the ELPC report notes, but now the credit is again in limbo.

Meanwhile the federal Investment Tax Credit which supports solar installations is in effect through 2016, with proponents hoping for a renewal.

In all three states and across the Midwest, federal grants under the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) pay up to a quarter of the cost for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at farms or small rural businesses. In 2014 Congress authorized continued funding of $250 million for five years.

The ELPC released its Iowa report on March 5, just before a major agricultural summit in Des Moines where Republican presidential hopefuls discussed their views.

Learner said renewable energy and the federal tax credits will likely be an issue in the presidential election, and the special role that Iowa plays is notable since public support for wind power in Iowa is strong.

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Report: Illinois Renewable Energy Sector Holds 400+ Businesses, 20,000+ Employees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: David Jakubiak, ELPC, (312) 795-3713 or djakubiak@elpc.org

Renewable Energy Investments Bring Business Growth

CHICAGO – More than 400 Illinois companies serve wind power and solar energy markets, providing more than 20,000 jobs to people across the state who are manufacturing, financing, designing, engineering, installing and maintaining renewable energy projects here and across the region, a study released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) found. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce joined the report release, underscoring the importance of investments in renewable energy in driving business growth across metropolitan Chicago.

“When a wind turbine goes up in rural Illinois, it doesn’t sprout from the ground,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Every piece of a turbine, from the wiring and blades to the footing and ball bearings, are manufactured by skilled laborers in places like Cicero and Rockford. Where the turbine is sited is determined by engineers and project managers in places like Springfield and Palatine. And how the project is financed involves investment professionals, many right here in Chicago.”

The report identified more than 230 companies involved in the solar power supply chain and 170 companies involved in the wind energy supply chain. The companies were identified through an analysis of data from several industry groups and then contacted individually to confirm their supply chain role.

For businesses involved in the installation and construction of wind and solar projects, increased renewable energy development results in new business and increased economic activity in the communities where they operate.

“When you look at this report, it’s clear that policies like the production tax credit for wind, the investment tax credit for solar, and our own renewable energy standards here in Illinois are pocketbook issues for the more than 20,000 Illinoisans whose work supports the wind and solar industries and the 400-plus companies deciding whether they are going to staff-up or slim down,” said Learner.

Elise Houren, Manager of Government Relations at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said having a robust renewable energy sector makes Chicago an attractive destination for sustainability-minded companies.

“Energy is an important part of the infrastructure that businesses look to when deciding where to open up shop,” Houren said. “We know many businesses have embraced sustainability and placed a priority on renewable energy. We have the companies and workforce to bring more solar powered businesses to the Chicagoland area and to develop more wind energy across the state using parts manufactured here in Chicagoland.”

 

Archived Recording of Telebriefing: http://cc.readytalk.com/play?id=6zkb8f

Report @ Art: www.elpc.org/IllinoisSupplyChain.

Interactive & Embeddable Google Map: www.elpc.org/supplychains

New Report Showcases America’s Rail, Transit Manufacturing Opportunity

Report Maps U.S. Rail, Transit Manufacturing Footprint, Highlights Critical Impact of Federal Transportation Investment on Manufacturing Growth Nationwide

WASHINGTON, DC (January 30, 2015) – The BlueGreen Alliance and the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) today released a groundbreaking new report illustrating the breadth of the U.S. transit and passenger rail manufacturing footprint, showing businesses and  jobs nationwide that are being sustained by state and federal investments in rail and transit. The report—Passenger Rail and Transit Rail Manufacturing in the U.S.—found more than 750 companies in at least 39 states that manufacture transit and passenger railcars, locomotives and their components and related materials and equipment today.

The groups said the report shows that there is a powerful opportunity to grow transit and passenger rail manufacturing nationwide, but argued that success depends on leadership from Congress to make the long-term investments in rail and transit that are key to sustaining a strong and globally competitive industry.

“This report underscores that investing in the transportation systems we need for a strong, prosperous economy, is also critical to rebuild good manufacturing jobs all across the country—in communities both nearby and far from the transit and rail systems themselves” said Kim Glas, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “We need leadership from Congress to ensure long-term, sustainable funding for transportation, and from leaders at every level to ensure that as we build and operate the clean energy and transportation infrastructure and technology of the future, we also rebuild good family supporting jobs and prosperous communities.”

“Modernizing our nation’s passenger rail and transit systems will improve mobility, alleviate congestion on highways and at airports, and will reduce pollution. This report shows that sound policies to accelerate passenger rail and transit will grow the economy and drive job creation at large manufacturing businesses, smaller fabricating companies, and technical and engineering businesses across the country,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Modern higher-speed rail development is good for job creation, good for economic growth and good for the environment.”

The report identifies 212 companies in 32 states that manufacture transit or passenger rail cars and locomotives or major rail propulsion, electronics, and body components and systems. And major suppliers are just the tip of the iceberg. Focusing on just two rail manufacturing regions—the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic—the report identified 542 additional companies manufacturing sub-components, materials, track and infrastructure, and providing repair and remanufacturing to the industry in these states. Not included were rail subcomponent manufacturers nationwide, but a closer look at that sector would certain generate an even longer list of companies that rely on transit and passenger rail investment.

“The bottom line is that those numbers represent real people, with real jobs that support their families in communities in towns like mine,” said Jennifer Narrod, Shop Chairman of IUE-CWA Local 81323 and a worker at Alstom Signaling in Rochester, New York. “Long-term, predictable funding is essential for my job and the many other people around the country who work for companies making parts for our rail and transit systems.”

Rail and transit manufacturers are located in virtually every state, in diverse industries—from major multinationals manufacturing railcars or propulsion systems to small family-owned precision machining companies. Transit and passenger rail use specialty materials, such as steel, glass and fabrics. Maps and state lists of all 754 companies were included in the report.

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The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of America’s largest labor unions and environmental organizations. We work together to turn today’s biggest environmental challenges into our biggest economic and job-creating opportunities. Together with 15 million members and supporters, we are a powerful, unified voice calling for good, family-sustaining jobs, a clean environment and a thriving and fair American economy. http://www.bluegreenalliance.org

The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization. www.ELPC.org

Greenwire: Groups pressure Congress to invest in passenger rail, transit infrastructure

Unions and environmental groups called on Congress to provide more funds for passenger rail and transit systems in a report released today.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center and BlueGreen Alliance released the report, “Passenger Rail & Transit Rail Manufacturing in the U.S.,” which examined the impact and opportunities the passenger rail and transit industry presents to the national economy.

Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said at the Washington, D.C., release that there are a variety of opportunities for Congress to invest in long-term passenger rail and transit infrastructure.

“We believe both passenger rail and transit should be included in a robust way in the transportation reauthorization bill and how funding is allocated,” he said. “We’re not against highways and bridges, but we want to make sure passenger rail and transit is a full, robust part of how the transportation reauthorization bill comes out.”

Some members of Congress have fretted over funding for a long-term bill, but Learner suggested there are ways to pay for infrastructure needs, including raising the gas tax.

“The gas tax has attracted some support and some favorable nods on both sides of the aisle, but also some opposition, particularly coming from the Republican House members,” said Learner.

Jennifer Narrod, the shop chairwoman for the IUE-CWA Local 81323 and a worker at Alstom Signaling Inc. in Rochester, N.Y., said a downsizing of manufacturing at her plant in recent years not only has hurt workers, but also has affected small businesses throughout the community. Narrod said long-term investments in the rail industry would be beneficial to Rochester and small towns across the country.

Narrod said her company, which produces signaling and operating systems for rail cars, manufactures products for larger cities and noted that Rochester doesn’t have a passenger rail system. Along with the report, Narrod said small-town companies have a significant impact on the rail industry and are important to the economy.

The report found more than 750 companies in 39 states that manufacture components for passenger rail and transit rail. It homed in on a set of Midwestern and Mid-Atlantic states and found 540 companies making subcomponents of materials, track and infrastructure products, as well as providing repairs for the industry.

Investing in passenger rail and transit infrastructure could further boost manufacturing in those states and expand production to others, the report found.

“We need leadership from Congress to ensure long-term, sustainable funding for transportation, and from leaders at every level to ensure that as we build and operate the clean energy and transportation infrastructure and technology of the future, we also rebuild good family-supporting jobs and prosperous communities,” said Kimberly Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of unions and environmental groups.

Congress has until May to find a funding solution for transportation infrastructure.

The report’s authors said short-term funding bills hamper hiring and fail to give investors and companies confidence to expand plants. Both Glas and Learner said a long-term infrastructure investment would provide these companies with certainty for the future.

Although there are a few months until the deadline, Glas said she and others would have “boots on the ground” at the Capitol and in congressional districts that are affected by infrastructure funding.

“Congress can and should come together and get something done here, and get it done in way that’s robust for creating jobs, growing our economy, investing in passenger rail and transit rail that helps our environment, helps mobility, reduces congestion and is good for jobs,” said Learner. “It’s up to Congress now to get that done.”

Mass Transit Magazine: New Report Showcases America’s Rail, Transit Manufacturing Opportunity

The BlueGreen Alliance and the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) on Jan. 30 released a groundbreaking new report illustrating the breadth of the U.S. transit and passenger rail manufacturing footprint, showing businesses and  jobs nationwide that are being sustained by state and federal investments in rail and transit. The report — Passenger Rail and Transit Rail Manufacturing in the U.S. — found more than 750 companies in at least 39 states that manufacture transit and passenger railcars, locomotives and their components and related materials and equipment today.

The groups said the report shows that there is a powerful opportunity to grow transit and passenger rail manufacturing nationwide, but argued that success depends on leadership from Congress to make the long-term investments in rail and transit that are key to sustaining a strong and globally competitive industry.

“This report underscores that investing in the transportation systems we need for a strong, prosperous economy, is also critical to rebuild good manufacturing jobs all across the country—in communities both nearby and far from the transit and rail systems themselves” said Kim Glas, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “We need leadership from Congress to ensure long-term, sustainable funding for transportation, and from leaders at every level to ensure that as we build and operate the clean energy and transportation infrastructure and technology of the future, we also rebuild good family supporting jobs and prosperous communities.”

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Capital News Service: Long-term federal funding needed in passenger and transit rail projects

WASHINGTON–The infrastructure of passenger and transit rail hangs in the balance without long-term federal funding, according to a report released Friday by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC).

Representatives from the BlueGreen Alliance and the ELPC cited Maryland’s Purple Line as a prime example of a transit project that would improve infrastructure and create jobs. Long-term funding from Congress for transit manufacturing will improve mobility, reduce pollution, and help the economy, according to the report presented at a news conference at the National Press Club.

Larry Hogan’s election as Maryland’s governor has presented a new challenge for the Purple Line in Maryland’s suburbs of Washington, D.C., and the Red Line in Baltimore. In his campaign, Hogan questioned the expense of the mass transit projects.

The $2.4 billion, 16-mile Purple Line would extend from New Carrollton in Prince George’s County to Bethesda in Montgomery County, and the $2.9 billion Red Line would extend 14 miles between Woodlawn in Baltimore County and Bayview in East Baltimore.

Pete Rahn, Hogan’s nominee for Maryland’s transportation secretary, told two legislative committees Wednesday that he will keep an open mind while reviewing all the information about the two rail proposals and hopes to make a recommendation to Hogan in the next 90 days.

The fate of the Purple and Red lines rests in the hands of Rahn and Hogan as well as federal funding in order to move forward.

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New ELPC Report: Farm Energy Success Stories (3rd Edition)

FESS_2014_CoverThe new edition of ELPC’s Farm Energy Success Stories features over a dozen projects from across the nation funded by the Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which ELPC has long championed.  These projects span a wide variety of technologies — including biomass, anaerobic digesters, energy efficiency, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar and wind — that have had a positive impact on rural development.

The new Farm Bill passed earlier in 2014 provides $881 million for Energy Title programs like REAP over 10 years, benefiting small- and mid-sized farms and ranches, as well as rural small businesses. ELPC’s Farm Bill Clean Energy Team has led the charge to extend the Farm Bill’s Energy Title programs and make these programs work well on the ground.

Learn more at ELPC’s www.FarmEnergy.org.

91 Illinois Communities Powered by 100% Green Electricity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 7, 2014

David Jakubiak
(312) 795-3713
djakubiak@elpc.org

 

NORMAL, Ill. – Ninety-one communities in Illinois have achieved 100 percent renewable electricity for their residents, says a new report released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, LEAN Energy US, the Illinois Solar Energy Association, and George Washington University Solar Institute. Each of the 91 communities chose to purchase electricity through renewable energy credits, leveraging their group buying power to receive renewable electricity while also reducing overall electricity cost.

 

Illinois has far more towns and cities supplying 100 percent renewable electricity than any other state in the union; Ohio follows with two cities.

 

“Normal is showing how communities can help move our country toward a more sustainable future from the local level,” Sen. Dick Durbin said. “Along with other communities up and down Illinois, this city is cutting down both its utility bills and its environmental footprint by pursuing renewable electricity.  I hope other states take notice of the good work being done here in Normal and all across Illinois.”

 

“We look at community aggregation as a way to get our City a great price on electricity, and we see it as a way to advance our sustainability goals,” said Normal Mayor Chris Koos, “We are proud that Normal and almost 100 other Illinois cities and towns are model for the nation in having those two goals go hand-in-hand.”

 

The 91 communities that have transitioned to 100 percent renewable electricity represent more than 1.7 million individuals. Demand for renewable energy from the state is more than six terawatt hours, a reduction in greenhouse gas comparable to taking more than one million cars off the road.

 

“We are seeing the power of letting communities choose their electricity supply,” said Sarah Wochos, senior policy advocate at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Across Illinois, cities and towns are asking for clean, renewable energy, and we encourage them to use that power to bring new renewable energy projects to their communities.”

 

“Across much of Illinois we have seen the impact that clean energy projects can have in boosting local development,” said Lisa Medearis, clean energy advocate with the Sierra Club, “This report honors communities across Illinois for their sustainability leadership, and urges them to continue innovating in 2014 by supporting even more local clean energy projects in Illinois.”

 

“Without fanfare, 91 local governments in Illinois have decided that renewable electricity is the best option,” said Keya Chatterjee, director of renewable energy and footprint outreach at WWF. “No one knew this was happening, and I doubt anyone would have guessed. America’s green energy revolution is here; and it starts in Illinois.”

 

To download a copy of the report, visit www.gocleangolocal.org/IllinoisReport.

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