Cantwell aims to energize green jobs creation

By:  Leah Beth Ward
Source: Yakima Herald-Republic

Yakima Herald-Republic - Leah Beth Ward

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Sen. Maria Cantwell said Wednesday that she's aiming to include more generous energy tax credits in jobs legislation under discussion in Congress, saying that green energy is a multitrillion-
dollar market waiting to explode.

"Energy efficiency really does mean jobs in America," Cantwell said, speaking at news conference at the Jeld-Wen window and door manufacturing plant off North Sixth Avenue in Yakima.

Democrats have been under the gun to create jobs and revive the economy ever since they lost the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts and health-care reform lost momentum. President Barack Obama vowed to create 5 million "green" jobs over the next 10 years, and last year's stimulus bill made billions available to develop the clean-energy sector.

But economists estimate that so far, only 52,000 clean-energy jobs have been created or saved by the stimulus bill, which marked its one-year anniversary Wednesday.

Jeld-Wen officials said a 30 percent tax credit -- in last year's stimulus package -- for consumers who replace single-pane windows
with more energy-efficient windows has helped stabilize employment at the assembly plant and a neighboring extrusion operation during the recession.

"We've sold millions of windows because of the tax credit," said Ron Saxton, executive vice president of the company, which is based in Klamath Falls, Ore.

Jeld-Wen, which has been in Yakima since 1987, employs 200 workers.

Cantwell said estimates show that if 10 percent of windows were switched to energy-efficient double panes, 13,500 new jobs would be created.

Cantwell teamed up in 2008 with Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada to pass a $17 billion clean energy package that extended an existing tax credit to consumers for up to $500 of energy-efficient product purchases.

The package passed as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, otherwise known as the bank bailout, and was signed by former President George W. Bush. Cantwell wants to extend the credit this year.

Last year, as part of the stimulus
package, the tax credit on install-
ing energy savers such as double-pane windows was increased from 10 percent to 30 percent with a maximum deduction of $1,500, which Cantwell wants to raise.

While tax credits cost money, Cantwell said they provide a two-to-one return. That is, the economy gets a $2 stimulus for every $1 the Treasury forgoes in tax revenue.

She declined to criti-cize Sen. Harry Reid, R-Nev., who this week yanked an $85 billion bipartisan jobs bill and
replaced it with a strip-ped-down $15 billion bill that focuses on a payroll tax deduction to stimulate hiring.

"The challenge he faces is what kind of bill to bring up that will make everyone happy," Cantwell said.

The latest version of the bill would exempt companies from paying the employer's share of Social Security payroll taxes for new hires. Cantwell said it would be a quick way to get the economy moving toward new-jobs creation.

"We think getting that implemented right away is important," she said.

The stimulus anniversary prompted Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Pasco, to issue a statement saying he opposes a second stimulus bill.

"This Congress must do better than more of the same failed bigger government and higher spending proposals," he said.