If I were you, I’d not start queuing up for one of those 1,000 jobs here in Nevada assembling wind turbines.
According to Zacks.com, the stock value of the company that announced plans in November 2009 to build that plant, A-Power Energy Generation Systems, hit a 52-week low this past week. The stock was trading for $2.77 a share, down from a 52-week high of $9.50.
In one day, 1.3 million shares of APWR were traded, compared to a customary volume of 355,000 shares a day. The stock did climb back above $3 in after-hours trading.
Three weeks ago, a Chinese energy forum website reported that A-Power officials met with Nevada Sen. Harry Reid to update him on plans for that Nevada assembly plant.
The forum offered:
“A-Power plans to construct its first U.S. turbine assembly facility, which is expected to be located in Nevada. A-Power is currently leasing a 36,000 square foot temporary facility in Henderson, Nevada. A-Power is seeking to assemble wind turbines in the United States that are intended to supply Spinning Star Energy LLC’s (“Spinning Star”) proposed wind energy power plant in west Texas and to other future customers in North and South America. A-Power presently expects that it will need to secure external financing for the wind turbine assembly facility. The availability of such external financing is not assured.
“Spinning Star is the joint venture enterprise owned by United States Renewable Energy Group Wind Partners I and Shenyang Power Group that was founded to develop and operate a wind power generation project of approximately 615 megawatt of capacity in west Texas. This wind project is currently under development and requires additional external financing for completion. The availability of such financing is not assured.” (Italics added for emphasis.)
How Nevada’s $8.25 per-hour minimum wage can compete against China’s factory labor pay of 64 cents an hour is a glaringly unanswered question.
As for A-Power’s partner, United States Renewable Energy Group, also known as US-REG, it has been working behind the scenes and putting checks in the right pockets to further the project. Some key people with ties to US-REG have contributed more than $23,000 personally to Reid and about $1.8 million to Democratic campaigns in general.
Russ Choma’s investigative report called “Blown Away” reported some of the convenient timeliness of events and contributions.
On March 3, 2010, Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats moved to amend the stimulus legislation that A-Power and US-REG were hoping to tap for $450 million for that wind turbine farm in West Texas.
“Eight days later, on March 11, a news conference was held by the Spinning Star partners, again beating the drum for a new turbine factory in Nevada,” Choma reported. “Though the new announcement offered few new details, it did have another new partner — the real-estate firm owned by the Greenspun family of Las Vegas, who, besides being vocal Harry Reid supporters, also own the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. The newspaper published an op-ed by Brian Greenspun lauding Reid for his role in the midst of a tough election fight to lure a project with such massive job creation potential to Nevada.”
A week later, according to Choma, one of the key US-REG execs contributed $29,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which coincidentally gave $65,000 to Reid’s campaign after he backed the A-Power project. Days later, several people with ties to US-REG gave $4,900 to Reid.
There were ribbon cuttings and events and more contributions.
“On Oct. 12, the cooperative relationship between Reid and the Spinning Star wind farm partners culminated with a splashy campaign event for the Senate leader, hosted by Cappy McGarr (the top guy at US-REG). The event was held at a newly opened LED manufacturing plant in Henderson, Nev., owned by an unrelated company from Singapore, and which A-Power declared was its new, temporary headquarters. It featured Reid taking the stage between McGarr and A-Power CEO Lu and a Communist Party official from Shenyang.”
Then Harry won re-election and we’ve not hurt a peep since.
The answer, my friend, ain’t blowin’ in the wind. It’s a matter of how much influence and money you can milk from the federal coffers.