Wind Helps Power Arkansas' Clean Energy Economy

Wind Helps Power Arkansas' Clean Energy Economy

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, senior adviser to The Pew Charitable Trusts' Clean Energy Program, today visited Little Rock, where she kicked off a national campaign to highlight how clean energy policies can help create jobs, stimulate innovation, spur private investment and enhance America's competitiveness in the global clean energy race.

During her visit Gov. Granholm toured LM Wind Power, which manufactures turbine components, and visited with community leaders, elected officials and students before hosting a forum at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe joined Gov. Granholm for a discussion on the role national policies can play in helping to build a clean energy economy.

“Wind represents 43 percent of the renewable power sector in the United States, and Arkansas has wisely put in place policy to strengthen the economic opportunities associated with manufacturing,” said Gov. Granholm. “As a nation, we need to advance policies that not only produce clean power and technology, but also make cars cleaner, industry more efficient and renewable energy more accessible and affordable.”

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe added, “When fuel prices are high, we see initiatives for more renewable, clean energy in America, but our national memory becomes short once the price of gas drops.   The frequency of recent spikes in fuel prices illustrates once again how wind and other clean-energy sources can create jobs and reduce our dependence on other countries.”  

In 2009, the Arkansas Legislature expanded a manufacturing tax incentive through 2033 for makers of windmill blades or components, providing certainty for business and making the state a compelling location for manufacturers. The LM Wind Power USA and Nordex USA manufacturing facilities will employ more than 1,000 workers in Arkansas by 2015.

Phyllis Cuttino, director, Pew Clean Energy Program, said, “Private investment in the global clean energy economy has grown by 630 percent since 2004. This rapidly expanding sector represents a significant economic opportunity for individual states and our nation. Gov. Beebe and the legislature recognized the opportunity and put in place clean energy initiatives that attracted global business—LM Wind Power USA, Nordex USA, and soon Mitsubishi—to Arkansas and created sustainable industry jobs.”

In Arkansas, clean energy jobs grew by nearly 8 percent from 1998 to 2007, and the state attracted close to $23 million in venture capital funds, according to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts published in 2009. More than 28.3 percent of Arkansas' activity at that time was in environmentally friendly production (ranking it 10th in the nation)—the fastest growing sector of the national clean energy economy.

During her eight years as governor, Granholm worked with business, labor, Republicans and Democrats to create new economic opportunities for the state through policies that promoted clean energy, attracting $9.4 billion in investments to Michigan and the potential for 89,000 jobs. She is one of the nation's leading experts on policies to enhance America's competitiveness and is working with Pew to inform the national conversation on the need for energy policy that yields certainty for business and jobs for workers.