Oct 11 2010
Groundbreaking further cements Washington state's clean energy leadership
MOSES LAKE, WA – Today Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said the $1.7 billion expansion of a Moses Lake manufacturer shows how clean energy can create jobs and economic growth even during challenging economic times. Cantwell spoke at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new, fourth manufacturing plant at REC Silicon, maker of polysilicon used to make solar panels, hybrid electric vehicles, laptops, and other consumer electronics. Helping fund the construction was a $154 million grant from the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit program – which Senate Finance Committee member Cantwell helped create as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). REC Silicon is using the competitive grant – the largest awarded anywhere in the country – to invest in REC’s proprietary Fluidized Bed Reactor technology which reduces energy consumption by 90 percent and allows for continuous production and lower manufacturing costs. REC Silicon, already the largest private sector employer andtaxpayer in Grant County, has added 355 local jobs since 2005 when expansion began, and expects to create as many as 70 more jobs by the end of this year. For every REC Silicon employee, almost three other Washingtonians are also employed.
“Today’s celebration marks a significant milestone for REC Silicon and for Washington state as a whole,” Senator Cantwell said. “REC’s recent expansion in operations has brought hundreds of permanent, high-paying jobs to Central Washington and lays a foundation for future economic prosperity. I believe that with the right government policies and incentives, combined with the right private sector innovation and investment, the United States will become the leader in the largest market opportunity of the 21st century – clean energy.”
Cantwell also emphasized the importance of extending the Section 1603 Treasury Grant Program (TGP), created in ARRA and due to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts. The solar industry, a major purchaser of the polysilicon made in Moses Lake, may all but shut down without extension of the TGP. Cantwell has introduced bipartisan, fully paid-for legislation that would extend the program for another two years. According to a recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Report, the TGP program will create over 143,000 jobs by the end of the year and enable 4,250 megawatts of renewable power projects to come online.
“The Treasury Grant Program is one of the most successful parts of the stimulus bill. It has spurred industry to invest in tens of billions of dollars of renewable energy alternatives and created over 143,000 jobs,” Cantwell said. “Investments in renewable energy projects will grind to a halt, along with the job creation that comes with it, unless this program is extended. That’s why I will be fighting for my legislation to extend the Treasury Grant Program through 2012 when the Senate returns to our nation’s capital.”
Since coming to the Senate, Cantwell has championed making our nation's energy system cleaner, more efficient, and more diverse. In October 2008, Cantwell spearheaded bipartisan negotiations that ended a nearly year-and-a-half Congressional stalemate and allowed a historic $17 billion clean energy tax package to pass the Senate by a vote of 93 to 2. The measure included renewable energy production tax credits, including an 8-year extension of the investment tax credit for solar projects, critical to getting new projects off the ground and keeping costs low for ratepayers. Cantwell also fought to invest more than $90 billion in energy programs in ARRA, including more than $21 billion in energy tax incentives for hydro, solar energy, wind power, smart-grid technology, biofuels, and programs to make buildings more energy efficient.