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United States

The prospect of lots of local jobs

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With GE Wind picked as equipment supplier for the 468 MW Cape Cod offshore wind plant, a key factor in gaining more public support is jobs. "Right now, jobs and economic development are very important to the local and national economies," says Deborah Donovan of the Union of Concerned Scientists' New England Clean Energy Campaign.

Just north of Boston in the town of Lynn, a GE aircraft engine manufacturing facility provides nearly 5000 jobs to the local community. State officials are eagerly looking forward to similar numbers in a possible wind turbine manufacturing facility. Currently, GE Wind is considering two possible sites. One is in the state of Rhode Island. The other is in an economically distressed area known as the Quincy Shipyards, just south of Boston. Since before the American Revolutionary War, ships were built in the yards, but as ship building gradually moved out of the US, those yards declined. They are now completely closed.

Quincy officials, enthusiastic about the prospect of making wind turbines in the yards, have been disappointed by the lack of aggressive support from the state's two national senators, Democrats Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, both of whom could do much to smooth the way for an incoming corporation. Bemusing officials further is the action of Congressman William Delahunt, representative to the national House of Representatives in Washington for the region, which spans both Quincy and Cape Cod, who has called for a complete moratorium on offshore wind.

The prospect of manufacturing jobs could transform the populace into wind energy enthusiasts, according to Robert Pratt of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund. "There's many ways in which, if we had a wind manufacturer in Massachusetts, we could come up with some good working relationships that would benefit the state and make renewable energy happen," he says.

Head of GE Wind, Steve Zwolinski, says GE will pay particularly close attention to the issue of jobs for the region. "We want to make this industry as sustainable as possible up here," he says.

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