News

Clean energy manufacturing could mean more jobs

Apr 18 -
> McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - Justin Schoenberger The Free Press,
> Kinston, N.C.
>
> A bill before the U.S. Congress could help both the environment
> and the economy of eastern North Carolina.
>
> The American Energy and Security Act is a plan to bring clean
> energy manufacturing jobs such as wind turbine and solar energy
> component plants to eastern North Carolina. Currently, it's being
> mulled over by U.S.
> Rep. G.K.
> Butterfield's congressional committee.
>
> Butterfield represents 23 counties east of Raleigh -- the poorest
> congressional district in the state and one of the poorest in the
> United States. Attempts to reach Butterfield for comment were
> unsuccessful Friday as he is currently making rounds during a
> congressional recess.
>
> This bill should have a positive economic impact on towns like
> Kinston, said Alina Johnson, who works for the Conservation Council of
> North Carolina as a global warming policy liaison.
>
> "We're facing a broader change in industry here in terms of
> moving away from the more agricultural and manufacturing-based
> economies that we're used to in eastern N.C.," Johnson said. "The good
> thing about moving toward these clean energy jobs is that we've
> already got the supply chain in place in these counties in terms of
> doing the manufacturing, creating the pieces we need for wind turbines
> or the solar panels.
>
> "You can create those products here within our state and export
> them out."
>
> The council Johnson works for is under the umbrella of the
> federal League of Conservation Voters, in which John Grant is a deputy
> director of the Global Warming Program.
>
> "One of the reasons that this is really important for North
> Carolina is the potential to bring jobs that will never be exported,"
> Grant said.
>
> Aside from bringing jobs to the area, Grant said the bill -- the
> first of its kind -- is a chance to take bold action on creating a
> comprehensive clean energy jobs plan.
>
> "We've been dealing with energy issues for a long time and we're
> going to be dealing with them even further, but this is a great
> opportunity to take action now," Grant said.
>
> Grant said the bill also addresses environmental concerns and
> energy efficiency by making it easier to "weatherize" homes and
> governmental buildings through incentives.
>
> "It will modernize the electricity grid so that we don't have to
> use as much energy as we do right now," Grant said.
>
> If the bill were to pass, it would be simple for eastern North
> Carolina to take on more clean energy manufacturing because of an
> abundance of quality community and technical colleges.
>
> "The building blocks are already in place," she said, "so it'd
> just be a matter of transitioning to this different kind of
> manufacturing."
>
> Justin Schoenberger can be reached at (252) 559-1075 or
> jschoenberger@freedomenc.com.
>
> For more information, visit www.conservationcouncilnc.org
>