(A-Power story updated for comments from A-Power's U.S. partner)
WASHINGTON D.C. and LIAONING, China (
) -- Legislation was introduced by a cadre of Democratic senators on Wednesday that could spell trouble for the huge wind-farm project that
A-Power Energy Generation Systems
has been touting since last year as one of its most important business wins.
With U.S. unemployment still at a historical high, the pressure has been mounting for stimulus packages from the federal government to be tied directly to job growth in the U.S.
What's more, the alternative energy space has come under particular fire as more and more U.S. green energy companies move manufacturing overseas, taking middle-class jobs with them and leaving only low-paying installation jobs available here in the U.S.
Senator Charles Schumer, a member of the Democratic leadership, and three other senators, not only introduced the legislation to tie green energy projects to U.S. job growth, but asked the Obama administration to suspend payments from a fund designed to encourage alternative energy projects until Congress comes to a consensus on the contentious issue.
The wind farm in West Texas for which A-Power is supplying the turbines is slated to receive $450 million in stimulus money.
Schumer singled out the West Texas project, noting that it employed 3,000 Chinese workers to build the turbines, but only 300 Americans to install them. Senator Schumer has made the West Texas wind farm a personal battering ram since last November, when he first requested that the Obama administration cut off funding to the project.
"It just makes your blood boil," New York State senator Schumer was quoted as saying at a press conference announcing the effort.
It was Schumer's comments that made some alternative energy executives' blood boil on Wednesday.
U.S. Renewable Energy Group
, which is one of A-Power Energy's partners on the West Texas wind farm, put out a statement saying that a minimum of 70% of each wind turbine in the 600 MW project, including the towers and blades, will be wholly manufactured in the United States and made entirely of American steel.
What's more, the alternative energy group noted that as a result of the 600 MW wind farm, A-Power is able to begin construction of a major wind-energy turbine and assembly plant in the United States that will result in 100% of each turbine either being wholly manufactured or assembled in the United States.
U.S. Renewable Energy Group partner Cappy McGarr said the plant alone will employ more than 1,000 American workers and serve as A-Power's primary facility to supply highly advanced wind energy turbines to renewable energy projects throughout North and South America."
A-Power was down less than 1% on Wednesday.
Of course, it's a long road from the boiling blood of a few grand-standing senators worried about their party's chances in the mid-term elections to law -- but the issue of green growth and U.S. job growth is not going away.
What's more, green-stock investors have been buying up the Asia-based alternative energy company stocks based on the low-cost advantage, an advantage that Street analysts have been harping on in bullish calls on Asian alternative energy stocks, particularly in the solar space.
The federal government and state governments have been successful in attracting some new plant growth -- such as in the cases of
Yingli Green Energy
, two Chinese solar players that are setting up plants in the U.S. to gain more business from the large-scale solar market in the U.S.
Still, U.S. alternative energy companies have moved more manufacturing overseas to remain competitive, as evidenced by decisions undertaken by
China has also awarded contracts to some big U.S. alternative energy companies, such as First Solar.
It's a complicated relationship between the green energy companies and government-supported business. Nevertheless, a legislative assault on the status quo in green energy manufacturing trends could create additional uncertainty for green energy stocks.
-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.
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