Renewable Manufacturing America Outreach Program
A Proposal of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Chambers for
Innovation and Clean Energy, and the International Economic Development Council
State of Current Federal Policy: Renewable energy is manufactured energy. Wind turbines and
photovoltaic modules are assembled from a series of component parts, creating huge opportunities for
job creation in manufacturing. Efforts to promote renewable energy must also help renew the domestic
manufacturing sector and support American job creation.
State and federal policies provide incentives to deploy renewable energy power plants but do much less
to expand domestic manufacturing of these technologies. Growth in renewable energy will not by itself
lead to more domestic manufacturing. New policies must be enacted to ensure that our investment in
clean technology creates American manufacturing jobs.
While there are many federal policies and programs encouraging renewable energy, economic
development, and job creation, there are few that specifically focus on renewable energy manufacturing.
We propose Renewable Manufacturing America (RMA) to address this need.
Renewable Manufacturing America: Created through a Presidential Executive Order, RMA will provide
technical assistance to Chambers of Commerce, Economic Development Agencies, Energy Offices, and
other stakeholders at the state and regional level. RMA is patterned after the successful Wind Powering
America program, a DOE project that convenes and supports local stakeholders into state Wind Working
Groups. The state groups identify local conditions and opportunities to promote wind power, and DOE
provides expert assistance to pursue them. Likewise, RMA will provide assistance to local stakeholders to
identify and develop local clean energy manufacturing.
Structure: The RMA would be created as an interagency effort, tapping into the expertise of the
Departments of Energy, Commerce and Labor. To ensure coordination and responsibility for execution, it
would be led by a single agency, to be determined.
Activities of RMA Program: A Presidential executive order creating RMA will direct federal agencies
(most likely a partnership of Energy, Commerce, and Labor) to:
- Assess renewable manufacturing potential at the state and regional level.
- Assist state and regional groups in the identification of ‘strategic assets’ and cluster opportunities.
- Identify best practices and policies and disseminate them between local groups.
- Connect universities and national labs with manufacturers to develop and commercialize
innovations, reduce costs, and integrate improved technology into domestic manufacturing.
- Support the integration of Renewable Innovation Roadmaps to local manufacturers, enhancing
their ability to compete in a global market.
- Provide technical assistance and support for local manufacturing content negotiations.
- Identify existing financial incentives for retooling and added capacity, and connect local efforts to
existing federal economic development and clean energy programs.
- Integrate workforce training and career ladder training into overall development effort.
- Develop a consensus on federal policies that accelerate renewable manufacturing.
Renewable Manufacturing America Policies
Federal Policy Platform: At the federal level, the three critical legs to a successful policy are:
- Appropriate incentives for retooling for renewable manufacturing. Creation of Renewable
Manufacturing Tax Incentive Bonds (RMTIs) to support the development of renewable
manufacturing facilities. RMTIs would work by offering the purchasers of the bonds a tax credit
in lieu of an interest payment. Sellers of the bonds, in this case new or expanded manufacturing
facilities, will pay back the principal of the bond but will save money on financing costs. RMTIs
can be marketed as Green Victory Bonds, giving individuals an opportunity to invest in climate
stabilization efforts and the rebuilding of the domestic manufacturing sector. Every dollar of tax
credits will result in roughly two dollars invested in new, domestic manufacturing. A ten year
program that offered $10 billion each year in RMTI bonds for new investments in manufacturing
could create a direct demand for 750,000 trained and skilled manufacturing employees.
- Targeted R&D is necessary to drive down the costs and improve the operating characteristics of
finished renewable products. An aggressive program to support the commercialization of R&D
efforts will assure technology innovations flow through domestic manufacturers. The R&D and
commercialization efforts should support a Technology Innovation Roadmap, i.e. a credible set of
innovations that provide a ‘roadmap’ showing how the costs of renewable energy can be driven
down to competitive levels.
- Creation of a Career Ladder as part of the expansion of domestic manufacturing. As domestic
renewable manufacturing expands the need for trained, skilled workers will expand. In order to
assure that the expansion of a domestic industry is not stalled by shortages of skilled workers,
firms receiving incentives should be required to provide estimates of the number and skill levels
of workers that will be needed. Training programs can be tied to these requirements.