Friday, November 14, 2008

A Gold Wind Blows in Washington County

Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based wind farm developer is interested in erecting two 200-foot test towers near Winslow to conduct tests to determine if there is enough wind to power future installation of commercial power-generating turbines. Invenergy will need conditional-use permits from the Washington County planning office, to construct the towers designed to collect data about wind speed. The Benton County Planning Board recently approved a similar plan for TradeWind Energy of Lenexa, Kansas to build a test tower in Sulphur Springs.

We applaud the efforts to test and perhaps develop the commercial potential of clean wind energy in this area. Washington County residents and planners also should be glad to know that, in proposing a Wisconsin wind farm, Invenergy offered easement payments of $4,200 a year to property owners who hosted a wind generator tower and $500 a year to other property owners within a third of a mile of the towers. Too bad SWEPCO, which is now pushing construction of dirty coal burning plants in Arkansas, didn't have that generous neighborly attitude when it erected those huge metal towers across Dickson Street and near historic homes in the Old Main viewshed.

Although the two test sites, and apparently the most potential for commercial wind generation are in Northwest Arkansas, the creation of clean-tech jobs are going elsewhere in our state. Just last month, Nordex USA Inc. announced plans to locate a $100 million wind turbine manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, which will employ 700 people at an average wage of $17.00 an hour.

The Dutch wind turbine blade manufacturer Polymarin Composites made the decision to locate its manufacturing site in Little Rock, investing $16 million in the facility that will employ 630 people at an average wage of $15.00 an hour. In addition, parts supplier Wind Water Technology will locate in the Polymarin facility, investing $4 million in equipment and employing 200 people at an average wage of $15.00 an hour. "This outstanding announcement is evidence that Little Rock has jumped into the 21st Century with both feet," said Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola last month. "Providing quality jobs while developing a reputation as a leader in sustainability is why Little Rock is quickly becoming the next great American city in the South."

LM Glasfiber of Denmark is locating its U. S. headquarters and 1,000 manufacturing jobs at its production facility in Little Rock. LM Glasfiber CEO Roland M. Sundén said, "when we considered the kind of amenities that are conducive for LM Glasfiber to attract and retain the people and talent we need, Little Rock was a natural choice for us.” Governor Mike Beebe responded, “Not only does LM Glasfiber offer a global presence, but it will supply skilled and technical jobs to our citizens."

Those are the kind of Green Jobs that we should be landing in Fayetteville, so why are they all going elsewhere? Don't those companies know about all the awards we have received for being a leader in sustainability? Don't they know that we have a global reputation? Don't they know our leaders who attend national and international conventions on sustainability and global warming? As Greg Harton would ask, "What Gives?"

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