Michigan businesses study potential of clean energy jobs plan

Published 9:20 am Friday, August 21, 2009

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Joined by State Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend), Michiana business leaders today urged Congress to pass a clean energy jobs plan that would boost Indiana’s economy and grow new jobs in the area.

The business leaders cited both personal experiences and recent studies that underscore how comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation can renew the economy with new clean energy jobs. Also highlighted was a new poll that shows strong public support for Congressional action.

“It’s time to get America running on clean energy,” said TJ Kanczuzewski, executive vice president of Inovateus Solar in South Bend, where the local businesses gathered today.

“Clean energy jobs are already keeping thousands of Hoosiers working. I know first hand that if Congress passes a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan we could put thousands more back to work in our state alone.”

Kanczuzewski’s father, Leonard of Cassopolis, owns the former business incubator in Cassopolis, called Inovateus Business Center. Along with SCORE, which has an office in the center, potential and existing businesses can get needed assistance in forming and executing their business plans.

A study from the Pew Charitable Trusts, entitled “Clean Energy Economy,” examined the number of clean energy jobs that already exist in each state. It found that 17,300 Hoosiers are already employed in the clean energy economy.

“Clean energy jobs are real and they’re here today,” said Tom Topash, president of Turtle Island Wind and Solar in Berrien Center.  “Now we just need Congress to act so our businesses can create more jobs, slash pollution, and make America more secure.”
A second study from the Center for American Progress and the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst found that the clean energy jobs plan passed by the House of Representatives – the American Clean Energy and Security Act – would create 1.7 million net new jobs. That includes 38,000 new clean energy jobs for Indiana.

“We need bold action to renew our economy,” said Ron Williams, president of Take Action Solar and Wind in Elkhart, Ind. “By passing clean energy and climate legislation now, Congress can make sure that the clean energy jobs of tomorrow are right here in Michiana.”

In addition to providing new jobs and a boost to the overall economy, a clean energy jobs plan would be of particular benefit to low-income Americans. A report from Green for All and the Natural Resources Defense Council, entitled “Green Prosperity,” highlights the potential for a clean energy jobs plan to fight poverty and raise living standards in communities across the U.S.

“Low-income Americans stand to gain tremendously – with new jobs, higher wages, and lower living expenses,” said Heidi McHugh, marketing manager for Middlebury’s Home and Mobile Energy.  “Building the clean energy economy will benefit all Americans, but there is evidence that it will help some of those hit hardest by the economic collapse the most.”

Finally, a new poll conducted on behalf of the National Wildlife Federation by Zogby International shows strong public support for comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation. A supermajority of respondents, 71 percent, support the plan passed by the House in June. The poll also underscored strong support for Senate action, with more than half of respondents agreeing that the Senate should act quickly to pass a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan.

“The public strongly supports the clean energy jobs plan passed by the House and it’s also clear they want the Senate to act quickly,” said Linda Yoder, vice president of Government Affairs for one of Indiana’s newest clean energy companies, Electric Motors Corp. in Wakarusa/Nappanee.”When Congress comes back from recess, it’s time for the Senate to get working to put America back to work in the clean energy economy.”

“Renewable energy stands to create tens of thousands of jobs in Indiana,” summed up State Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend), chair of the House Environmental Affairs Committee. “It is absolutely essential to the future of our state and a key component to pulling out of the ongoing recession.”