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Emerging Michigan Wind Industry Could Offset Some Employment Losses in Auto

The Detroit News. A new wind turbine assembly plant opening later this year in Novi, Michigan will create about 250 manufacturing jobs which are being sought by displaced autoworkers.

...The company received $7.3 million in tax credits from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority in December to create 256 direct jobs over six years. Long said the company likely will grow well beyond that number within two years—to more than 400 employees—and hopes to source components for its 1.5 megawatt turbines to in-state suppliers, a move that could support thousands of additional manufacturing jobs.

...Global Wind Systems will initially draw many of its parts from Europe, where wind technology has matured faster than in the US. Long, however, hopes his business will help better define a supply chain in Michigan. The company has vetted more than 500 Michigan suppliers that could machine turbine parts. “From that activity, this is when the real job growth happens,” Long said, adding it could result in more than 8,000 supplier-based manufacturing jobs.

A September 2008 study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst on the national and state-by-state employment impact of a short-term clean energy and jobs program calculated that Michigan’s net job creation through such a green economic recovery program would be 61,394 jobs, based on Michigan unemployment figures in June 2008. This would reduce Michigan’s unemployment rate to 7.5% in two years from the 8.7% in June 2008 (at the time of the study). Michigan’s unemployment rate in February 2009 was 12.0%.

(A hat-tip to Glenn!)

Comments

HarveyD

Good news for greener energy supply.

A Calgary group has designed a variable load power generator for wind turbines, to increase the average power output with variable wind speeds.

Basically, it is a plit type multiple-module generator (on the same shaft) whereby modules can be electronically connected and/or disconnected to maximize the power generated with various wind speeds.

During extensive tests, the average power generated was increased from 20% to 40+ % using this type of generator over the conventionnal single generator unit.

Doubling the power generated can lower the cost per KWh by almost 50% for most wind turbines.

SJC

People are talking about putting wind turbines out in the Great Lakes. It is suppose to be a good place for steady winds.

dex3703

The conversion of the rust belt to new energy technology manufacturing seems drop dead obvious.

Engineer-Poet

It's only obvious if it's possible to prevent the same suffocating unionism which has nearly killed Detroit.

The Goracle

It's also only obvious if tax-and-spend liberalism is reigned in. Companies are fleeing Michigan, New York, California, et. al. due to the suffocating tax burdens. Go to a state that's NOT hostile towards businesses and one can afford to hire more employees with the huge tax savings.

arnold

Thats right make em work for $4.05 per hour like Phillipino workers.
The liberal socialosts freed the slaves, now they want more thats why the world is in this predicament and co CEO's no longer get lear jets on top of their multi million bonuses.
They'll be wanting health care next.

Andrey Levin

You commenting here guys are definitely not following current trends in R&D venture companies. Michigan is tax-rebate heaven for so called “green energy” enterprises.

EMM

Arnold,

Try knowing the facts before you spout crap. Not that it matters but Abraham Lincoln, the nations first Republican President freed the slaves not any of the liberals before him.

And it is the Liberals in congress that complain about companies having their own planes and then insist on having private jets of their own, refusing to fly with the public. At least companies pay for their own aircraft, you and I are paying for Nancy and the gangs "private" planes.

As for jobs, be they green or otherwise, the more manufacturing we can return to this country the better. We are slowly losing our skilled labor as people retire and are not being replaced by younger skilled workers. The loss of these jobs is the fault of government (State and Fed taxes, regulations, etc), unions and management. Look where the greatest job growth has occured over the last 10 years and it is the states with the lowest taxes and lowest union organizing. Businesses are fleeing California, NY and other states due to high taxes.

Yes, Michigan, Ohio and other "rust belt" states are offering very attractice incentives to encourage businesses to set up shop. The problem comes when those incentives expire and the high tax rates take hold.

Look who is pushing all of the new Federal regulations on business, it is California and NY. They want the Feds to level the playing field by adopting their crazy policies for the rest of the country. They screwed themselves up with taxes and regulations and now they want to fix it by screwing up the rest of the country.

The Goracle

Arnold, What's a "socialosts?" Please site references.

SJC

Maybe those are the socialists that lose elections?

ExMichigander

The creation of "any" new manufacturing jobs in Michigan is good news, but 256-400 direct jobs over six years equates to the number of jobs "lost" at any one of the many shuttered auto manufacturing plants and their connected automotive components suppliers across Michigan and Ohio in the past several years.

Last summer I visited the Harvest Wind Farm in northern Huron County to see first hand the first large scale wind farm in the state. This wind farm has 41 large turbines. How long did it take to manufacture those turbines, and how many people were employed? I wonder how many additional manufacturing jobs will be required to build the turbines required to fill wind farms on the remaining high quality sites in the state, perhaps 10s of thousands......

Since 2000 Michigan has lost 780,000 jobs, of that total, a quarter million have been in auto manufacturing alone. At the higher figure of 400 jobs this equates to less than 0.0005% of those lost jobs.

Green collar jobs need to replace blue collar jobs in the state of Michigan one for one to matter, or at least some percent of the lost jobs, and based on the high cost environment and adversarial labor climate this is unlikely to happen.

arnold

Socialosts was a keyboard / proof error.

Unions and labour organisations like any are only as good as their management, I am not a union, socialist, business religious or any other sycophant - people organise institutions in the interests of their constituents for good or for personal interests and there are bad apples in every bunch.

We as ordinary persons seek affiliation via labour organisations, professional bodies IE politicians have wage structures and conditions that they negotiate and agree to as a body - both sides.
It is not in any parties interest to set a price beyond the markets ability and we see many examples of that practice.
Similarly underpaying workers is not cost effective and does not attract the best applicants.

It is important to recognise that though examples are rare, it is possible that conditions be negotiated downwards. Most commonly this occurs through slowing of demands relative to the C.P.I.(consumer price or costs index)

There are many forms of wage negotiation, union negotiated conditions usually apply to a groups of labour with low end bargaining power.

It's very convenient when things dont suit or are a bit complicated to explain in a 'one line grab' to have a whipping boy and guess what "unions" are a favourite of certain business and political interests.

Other groups that get stick include immigrants as they lower wages and conditions by often taking unpleasant jobs and creating wage competition. "Women should be in the home and are held back was the catch cry for the previous 5-6 decades and the statistical legacy of comparatively low wages and opportunity is simply a fact.


Australian unions fought a 40 year battle over asbestos in the workplace, although successful and internationally significant in terms of peoples lives and health beyond the workplace, the asbestos legacy is still affecting many and the bosses and co's that allowed this despite knowledge of the consequences of their decisions to put profits first are like tobacco co's. Willingness to exploit the financial incentives leads to risk taking (with other peoples lives) vs workers need for job security.(sound familiar)

Which leads to nanotech. Whilst the jury is still out as to the specifics, nanotech - Asbestos as a classic nano particle - is a workplace issue following in this footstep.
Again the Australian circumstance finds that unions are the visible body with the incentive , interest and mandate to signal, study and inform those that are potentially at risk from this new technique.

In China for instance we have low standards workplace monitoring that leads to lead painted toys for international consumers. Other toxic ingredients and work practices that diminish the lives of everyone involved and by extension reduce confidence in the "system.
This is not about over or under regulation, but no regulation.

Many of us have children that are educated to be useful and integrated contributors to society and he increasingly global community.
I have expectations that they will be able to defend their living standards against shoddy labor and political practices and unions are 'in conception if not always in execution' one of the organisations with a track record of socially useful achievements.

You that blanket criticise the organisation and legislation of worker protection also interestingly complain about the unrestrained Harvard buisness model and free market co's and low labour cost countries for taking jobs through unbeatable economics. - Bad money drives good money out of circulation.


I would ask if you would prefer your children and these young and jobless workers to move to these countries and work for IE an American co (or any other) for $4.05 per day.
This worked in the 'old soviet USSR'
amongst the uneducated or at the point of a gun.

The Chezcoslovakian workers that organised the beginning of the end of that system were an example of labour organisation.

Unions and such have justified their existence in the last century by helping bring about the high living standards of democratic and compassionate world systems we all benefit from today.

The way the post rush to complain about worker org's for the failures of this industrial and financial model should not go unchallenged.

One could assume that some of the posters are employers or organisers of other peoples labour and find business competition frustrating, but remember the labourers are also the customer and through sheer numbers provide both the economy the infrastructure and the effort that makes the world go around. They are mostly the ordinary taxpayer, and unlikely to have tax haven benefits either within the taxation system or internationally. yet their natural aspirations can be as easily turned around to be the problem by either thoughtless commentators or employers and other personnel managers bosses,investors, bankers and politicians and teachers that are less than competent in their chosen field.
I'm just glad they dont have stewardship of non human or domesticated beasts etc that are even more vulnerable to economically justified exploitation and cruelty.

When I first started posting here ~005-6, I repeatedly made the point that soon to be decommissioned auto manufacturing plants both in Aus and US were ideally placed with skilled workers and established facilities to build wind generation or any other suitable "green revolution (11)" technology.

Good to see these opportunities being seriously pursued.
The fact that 'we' are the beneficiaries of skilled workers who have pursued their interest through the turmoil of bad commercial and political management that appears to have lead us to the brink of world system collapses, through no fault of theirs are still there to apply those talents for the common good but ask in return for decent housing, health and schooling security for their spouse is testimony to the generosity of spirit that should not be mindlessly - ah - we have saying
" pissed up against the wall."


arnold

Apologies again I was thinking of -
Solidarity trade union was founded in Gdansk - Poland - in September 1980 at the Lenin Shipyards, where Lech Wałęsa and others formed a broad anti-communist social movement ...

Ex Mich,

"Since 2000 Michigan has lost 780,000 jobs, of that total, a quarter million have been in auto manufacturing alone. At the higher figure of 400 jobs this equates to less than 0.0005% of those lost jobs."

I am not suggesting that you blame this decline entirely on unionised labour, I believe even in China, there are many empty start up factories that couldn't launch. The world downturn in the auto industry is global.

There are examples of industry that have a bright future and very many examples of job transfer to low labour cost countries. Bottom line is people in poverty will never be able to utilise the benefits or fruits of their labour.

A point that did'nt escape Henry Ford was that for his economic model to succeed, his employees required the means to purchase the product they helped create.

Andrey Levin

I am not very fond of any information supplied by pathologically dishonest and clinically idiotic journalism at British mass media, but anyway here it goes:

“… investment in the sector of British wind industry has collapsed by nearly 80 per cent…cancellation of large projects such as the London Array, a £3 billion scheme to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the Thames Estuary…developers are already seeking a bailout from the European Investment Bank…it would be impossible for the country to meet its target of generating 15 per cent of total energy from renewable sources by 2020…Globally, investment fell by 53 per cent…The Department of Energy and Climate Change…”

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6073997.ece

jimfromthefoothills

unbelievable how some people think that the solution to economic problems is to lower wages and take away worker rights. If it wasn't for unions we wouldn't have a 5 day work week and 8 hour work day. Superannuation??? sorry that is socialism mate. Public education? Why in the hell do we want to educate the masses. we already have Harvard.

The people on this blog who criticize workers and worker rights are tied to an ideology beyond reason. emm and goracle seem to think that if we just eliminate regulations all will work out for the best. That somehow democracy is bad. Somehow I don't think that either of those guys is the CEO of Goldman Sachs, maybe they would like to be.

Thank you Arnold for making some sense on this posting and others on this blog.

Engineer-Poet

Unbelievable how some people think that "worker rights" has to mean allowing for massive absenteeism, ridiculous work rules and even sabotage for compensation that even some degreed professionals in the same industry couldn't get.  IIRC, those clowns got state unemployment comp during the annual model changeover, in addition to their regular vacation pay!  This privilege given to the UAW has bled the US automakers dry, as people have been predicting for years.

If you wonder why some us who've spent a fair fraction of our working lives in the auto industry have no patience with expansive "worker rights" for unskilled and semi-skilled labor, look at the devasation these have wrought in the places where they were strongest and tell me why I should give you the time of day.

jimfromthefoothills

The engineer's pay and rights increased because of the union's efforts. BMW and Mercedes both pay their workers more and their workers have more rights. you could say the same for the French and Italian workers.

the reason that american car companies are in the toilet now are not becuase we pay workers too much or the workers stink. It is because the products are lousy and unimaginative. You guys were unable to ever create anything new. If I were an automotive engineer I would feel ashamed.

Maybe you should stop blaming others.

SJC

The engineers at Ford and GM are good, it is the management that is lacking...IMO. The management and marketing keep saying that no one will buy small cars. Then they say hybrids are just a fad. Those bone heads are to blame, as far as I can see...not the engineers. The managers make the decisions and they keep making bad ones.

jimfromthefoothills

Ok, fair enough, if leadership had been better then the engineers may have innovated.

The ideological attacks on the American worker and unions though are wrong-headed.

Engineer-Poet
The engineer's pay and rights increased because of the union's efforts.
You sure couldn't tell by me.  The union was always interfering with me doing my job, like having rules that only a union member could do anything with a fastener on a car!  Meanwhile I'm trying to get a module into the vehicle to collect some essential data, but I have to wait on the union a**h*** to do a trivial task that would take me ten seconds.

And as for auto engineer pay?  When I got out of the auto industry and went to work on aircraft stuff for a while, my pay doubled overnight.  No joke.

the reason that american car companies are in the toilet now are not becuase we pay workers too much or the workers stink. It is because the products are lousy and unimaginative.
Let's look at that:
  • The workers are paid too much.  This has kept Detroit from being able to make a competitive small car for the last 20 years, and forces the companies to cut other things... like product development.
  • The workers stink.  Honda and Toyota can hire people with minimal abilities, like being able to read.  They can put them in one labor category, "Production", and expect everyone to be able to do any job on the line to fill in for people who are absent.  They can pay them decently but not excessively.  Companies strangled by the UAW have been able to do none of those things.
  • Lousy products are a consequence of the money going to the UAW protection racket.  There's less money for R&D, and the company has to rely on high-profit categories (like SUVs) to pay the excessive wages and bennies.  Innovation is risky, and risk means sinking ever-faster toward bankruptcy.  Well, now they're there.  Endgame.
(let's see if my nice bullet list makes it past the posting filters)
if leadership had been better then the engineers may have innovated.
The engineers and scientists were always coming up with great things.  Being able to make stuff that would be profitable in a UAW environment... that was much harder.  Toyota built the Prius with Japanese work rules, while Detroit lobbied to kill the PNGV.  To reverse these things, we have to change the environment in which the industry exists.  The UAW is a huge part of that, and its role needs to be radically reduced.

jimfromthefoothills

You obviously have a lot of emotions involved with the unions, but you have not presented any facts.

Study wages and worker rights in other countries. Do you even know how many worker hours are needed to assemble a modern car?

When your wages "doubled" were they excessive? As a society we will only move forward if people begin to consider others. For some people that is never going to happen.

Engineer-Poet

What's not a fact?That the union didn't shelter incompetents, absentees, people who did no work, and outright saboteurs? I knew a retired UAW guy who kept his machine working at a fraction of its capacity, and he was PROUD of it!That the union demanded their people do everything that involves touching a vehicle, even test vehicles, regardless of how long a delay this might put in an urgent project?That the UAW contract didn't make Detroit's labor far more expensive than just about anything else, which was more or less a "UAW tax" on the American citizen?That the same contract isn't a major part of Detroit's decay compared to e.g. Toyota?Come on, this stuff is extensively documented. Ignorance may make you impossible to convince, but it sure doesn't make you right.
Study wages and worker rights in other countries. How productive are those workers? Tell me just how much the illiterate UAW line worker creates per hour, compared to someone in a Toyota plant anywhere.
Do you even know how many worker hours are needed to assemble a modern car?If you aren't including the hours to make the engine and all the parts from UAW-organized suppliers, that's irrelevant.
When your wages "doubled" were they excessive?Now you're moving the goalposts. First, you said the UAW did a lot for me (as if someone with a 4-year science degree from a top institution being paid LESS than unskilled labor is getting any favors). When I proved otherwise, you switched tactics to the guilt trip. Irrelevancies are the sign of a bankrupt argument.

It's easy to prove that my wages were not excessive: I had no union, nobody ever struck any of my employers demanding more money for engineers, yet those outside Detroit freely paid double what I'd been making before. They needed talent and paid what they had to to get it.
As a society we will only move forward if people begin to consider others.Yes, let's start with that unskilled labor. Let the UAW consider the need for greater productivity, competitive wage rates, an actual work ethic, and the need for the country as a whole to use less oil even if that means that line workers need to give up their power boats and drive cars that get 35 MPG. Let's have some patriotism that goes beyond empty gestures like putting a drag-inducing flag out the window of the pickup; you know, self-sacrifice.

Engineer-Poet

Goddamn it, if a comment is previewed all the HTML formatting is stripped when it's posted.  Here's what it was supposed to look like:

What's not a fact?

  • That the union didn't shelter incompetents, absentees, people who did no work, and outright saboteurs?  I knew a retired UAW guy who kept his machine working at a fraction of its capacity, and he was PROUD of it!
  • That the union demanded their people do everything that involves touching a vehicle, even test vehicles, regardless of how long a delay this might put in an urgent project?
  • That the UAW contract didn't make Detroit's labor far more expensive than just about anything else, which was more or less a "UAW tax" on the American citizen?
  • That the same contract isn't a major part of Detroit's decay compared to e.g. Toyota?
Come on, this stuff is extensively documented.  Ignorance may make you impossible to convince, but it sure doesn't make you right.
Study wages and worker rights in other countries.
How productive are those workers?  Tell me just how much the illiterate UAW line worker creates per hour, compared to someone in a Toyota plant anywhere.
Do you even know how many worker hours are needed to assemble a modern car?
If you aren't including the hours to make the engine and all the parts from UAW-organized suppliers, that's irrelevant.
When your wages "doubled" were they excessive?
Now you're moving the goalposts.  First, you said the UAW did a lot for me (as if someone with a 4-year science degree from a top institution being paid LESS than unskilled labor is getting any favors).  When I proved otherwise, you switched tactics to the guilt trip.  Irrelevancies are the sign of a bankrupt argument.

It's easy to prove that my wages were not excessive:  I had no union, nobody ever struck any of my employers demanding more money for engineers, yet those outside Detroit freely paid double what I'd been making before.  They needed talent and paid what they had to to get it.

As a society we will only move forward if people begin to consider others.
Yes, let's start with that unskilled labor.  Let the UAW consider the need for greater productivity, competitive wage rates, an actual work ethic, and the need for the country as a whole to use less oil even if that means that line workers need to give up their power boats and drive cars that get 35 MPG.  Let's have some patriotism that goes beyond empty gestures like putting a drag-inducing flag out the window of the pickup; you know, self-sacrifice.

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