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"Minnesota wind production could create more than 3,000 jobs and boost economic base of communities"

Minnesota wind production could create more than 3,000 jobs and boost

economic base of communities St. Paul, MN – Minnesota’s natural wind resources, highly skilled labor

force and manufacturing base provide the state with a tremendous

opportunity to capitalize on wind energy and become a key asset in the

nation’s move toward energy independence, according to Minnesota 2020’s new

report, Winds of Progress.Already, Minnesota is one of the country’s leaders when it comes to

installed wind capacity, with 1800 Mega Watts, enough to power 450,000

homes annually. Only Texas, Iowa and California have a greater availability

to produce more electricity from wind so far.“After years of investing in

education, Minnesota has the brain capital to supply wind developers with

the necessary resources to maintain and advance development of this

renewable resource in our state,” said Minnesota 2020 Executive Director

John Van Hecke.“Just as Minnesota coupled its natural resources with a

well-trained labor force to become a pioneer in food production and health

care, we can repeat this formula to rise as a national center for renewable

energy.” Based on the state’s renewable energy standard, Minnesota’s

utilities must purchase or generate 25 percent of their energy from natural

resources by 2025 (30 percent by 2020 for Xcel Energy). Minnesota 2020’s

new report estimates it would take about 4,000 Mega Watts of capacity,

enough to power a million homes, to meet that demand. With the proper

investment, research, and location, this kind of wind production in

Minnesota would create more than 3,000 jobs and pump up to $8 billion into

the economy over the next 20 years.There are numerous examples of how this

will provide Minnesota companies in related industries chances to grow by

expanding their operation to produce components for wind turbines.

Recently, Duluth-based Northstar Aerospace, which was hit hard by the

economic downturn, hired back about 20 workers after a shift to produce

parts for wind generation manufacturers. Overall, Minnesota ranks in the

top third when it comes to workers and businesses already operating in

industries related to wind power manufacturing.In order to take full

advantage of our resources and grow wind production in the state, Minnesota

2020 is making the following recommendations:Minnesota’s short-term goal should be to localize wind turbine building and

attract foreign wind energy manufacturers. These partnerships would allow

for technology transfer and give Minnesota companies opportunities to gain

experience in the wind turbine manufacturing sector.Developing new,

in-state, wind energy companies should be a longer-term goal.Use

Minnesota’s existing knowledge base and localization advantages to expand

and develop new, in-state wind energy companies (e.g. Northstar

Aerospace).Increase investment in existing training centers to enhance the

use of local labor during the construction and operating periods of wind

projects. Establish or expand programs at Minnesota’s colleges and

universities to train wind technicians and encourage research.Provide

assistance to Minnesota companies in meeting the aggressive certification

and standardization requirements of wind turbine manufacturers.Encourage

local ownership of wind farms; 100 percent local ownership of wind projects

is estimated to have an annual impact that is almost three times greater

than corporate-owned projects.“Minnesota cannot afford to wait or delay

this discussion,” said MN 2020 Research Fellow Nathan Paine. “Other states

and the federal government are considering similar renewable energy

standards. Minnesota wind farms can become a key supplier of clean power

across the upper Midwest and help move the country toward energy

independence. However, we must continue building on our enormous advantages

to make that a reality.”MN 2020 is a nonpartisan, progressive think tank that focuses on the issues

that really