Out of the USA........
ATLANTA -- Windmill farms are popping up all over the United States. President Obama wants it to continue.
In last month he said, "the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy".
The President set aside millions of stimulus dollars for green initiatives as part of last year's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Since then, the government has handed out $1.7 billion dollars into the wind power industry. But, the big news is where the money is going. America's new "green rush" has turned into a 21st century "gold rush" for other countries.
"Foreign companies are looking at the U.S. and are seeing a really great opportunity," said Russ Choma of America University. His investigation, along with a U.S. Senate report found more than a billion dollars going to foreign-owned energy companies. It's because they dominate the field of manufacturing the turbines and other equipment for windmill farms.
"The big problem we see with the legislation...is that there's nothing that says what you have to do with the money once you receive it. The hope is that you will re-invest it in the U.S., but there's nothing that obligates you to do so", Choma said.
The Spanish-based company Iberdrola has gotten $443 million in stimulus funds so far. The Portugal-based company E.D.P. has gotten $229 million. The British-based company Terra Firma is getting $42 million. It bought the Highland Wind Farm in western Pennsylvania from an American company just days before the stimulus awards were announced last year.
Jared Bernstein is the economist overseeing the stimulus money. Channel 2 Action News asked him about the green stimulus money.
"The resources in the Recovery Act are, of course, intended for domestic production - domestic jobs right here in the United States", he said.
Still, he acknowledged green money is moving out of the country. "There may be some, but we put "buy America" provisions in the Recovery Act that stresses the importance of spending these dollars here to create employment in America."
We learned the "buy America" provision only applies to public works programs, like the new Mitchell Street Bridge about to be built in Downtown Atlanta. The wind program is considered a private endevour.
The industry defends itself with job numbers, but Russ Choma says the reality is, they're not creating many U.S. jobs. The construction to build the windmill farms usually are temporary. The manufacturing jobs are limited.
In 2006, the Spanish-based company Gamesa opened a plant in Western Pennsylvania hiring 238 employees. In November 2009, the company laid off half of his workforce, citing the bad economy.
Right now, many leaders in the United States are growing concerned stimulus money may be used for manufacturing jobs in China. It has just raced past Europe to become the world's leading manufacturer of wind turbines. A proposal for a Texas project using turbines primarily made in China, is requesting $450 million in stimulus funds.
"I think this is a major mistake", said Phil Kerpan from Americans for Prosperity. He believes this is just another example of an overall flawed stimulus plan.
"We were opposed to this from the very beginning because we don't feel government spending can stimulate the economy", he said. "It has been a gross misuse of taxpayer money across the board."
Copyright 2010 by WSBTV.com.