“How many times in this country do we get to build a whole new industry?”
That was the question posed by Robert L. Mitchell, the chief executive officer of Atlantic Wind Connection, who appeared at the MTD executive board meeting in Orlando on March 9.
Mitchell is working with maritime labor to promote wind farms along the mid-Atlantic coast. Saying that this is a “very exciting project,” he cited statistics showing that wind power could create thousands of jobs and reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil.
According to Mitchell, the rap against wind farming is that winds blow mostly at night, when a daylight source of energy is most needed.
However, conditions along the east coast are different than other places in the United States, particularly those found inland. He noted recent studies showing there is ample reason to believe that wind farm projects can create ample energy during the day with the power drawn from breezes off the Atlantic.
Moreover, utilizing wind farms on the east coast makes sense because the New York City to Washington, D.C. corridor is the most heavily concentrated source of energy use in the nation.
With strong support from key figures like Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and others, Atlantic Wind Connection is seeking to have energy projects up and running as early as 2017. He said, with determination, persistence and a little luck, wind farms can become a significant source of U.S. energy and jobs within a decade.
Mitchell strongly supports a labor-management coalition on this issue, especially since AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has made wind farming and other sources of green technology a priority for the federation.
The CEO believes that if all goes according to plan, the number of newly created jobs in the wind farming industry can top 34,000 within a decade.
“That’s no small potatoes,” he added.