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Attracting green jobs

This session, the Legislature will work to attract green collar jobs to Minnesota. A recent study, conducted by the Blue Green Alliance and the Renewable Energy Policy Project, found that Minnesota has the potential to add over 18,000 green jobs ...

This session, the Legislature will work to attract green collar jobs to Minnesota. A recent study, conducted by the Blue Green Alliance and the Renewable Energy Policy Project, found that Minnesota has the potential to add over 18,000 green jobs in the construction, manufacturing, management, maintenance, financing, legal and other sectors because of our nation-leading Renewable Energy Standard (RES).

Given the recent news that Minnesota's economy has entered a recession and our unemployment rate is at its highest level since March 2004, creating new jobs in our state is a top legislative priority.

Capitalizing on our Renewable Energy Standard is a great place to start. The renewable energy industry is taking off across the nation, so Minnesota needs to be proactive in attracting these business investments to our state.

After we passed the RES last session, the Legislature instructed the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to develop a strategy to "obtain the maximum economic benefit for the state and its citizens from the renewable energy activities prescribed by [the Renewable Energy Standard]." Since this legislation was passed, DEED officials have begun to produce promotional materials, travel to trade shows and organize the manufactures needed to build wind turbines.

Currently, 97 percent of all utility scale turbines are made by 10 companies, many of which are located in Europe. One of the largest manufactures, Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark, has announced its intentions to build and operate a new research and development center in the United States starting in 2009. Minnesota legislators and staff from the Governor's office have been in contact with Vestas Systems, encouraging them to build their new facility in Minnesota. Minnesota is competing with several other states, including Iowa, which has had four turbine manufacturers set up shop in their state in the past two years, to attract Vestas. We can provide a boost to our economy while implementing our RES by using wind turbines that carry a "Made in Minnesota" sticker.

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Minnesota has everything needed to expand the renewable energy industry - a well-educated and well-trained work force, a university which is nationally recognized for its engineering programs and research in renewable energy and the environment, and manufacturers that supply many of the parts needed in order to build wind turbines. We've already made the nation's strongest commitment to the use of renewable energy - now is the time to step up our effort in attracting the related economic development to our state.

Senator Tony Lourey can be contacted by calling 651-296-0293, by e-mail at sen.tony.lourey@senate.mn , or by writing to 205 State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155.

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