Monday, May 26, 2008
Peter Passi Duluth News Tribune
Published Friday, May 23, 2008
Fiscal year 2007 will go down as the most profitable ever for the Duluth
Seaway Port Authority. The authority closed its fiscal books March 31 this
year, more than $2.3 million in the black, according to Chief Financial
Officer John Kubow.
The port authority's previous financial best had been fiscal year 2001, when
it reported a net profit of $837,000.
So what made fiscal year 2007 so special?
Kubow's simple explanation: "Sales of wind turbine components."
The port authority gets a cut of all revenues generated by the Clure Marine
Terminal's operator, Lake Superior Warehousing Co. Inc. And the company
handled lots of wind power equipment last shipping season, both inbound from
overseas and outbound to destinations on the East Coast and Europe.
In 2007, the American Wind Energy Association estimated between $8 billion
and $10 billion was being invested in wind power annually, much of it in the
nation's heartland, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and
Initially, the port was seeing large shipments of wind farm equipment
imported from Germany, Denmark and Spain.
As wind farms proliferate, domestic production of wind turbine and tower
equipment has been climbing, expanding the outbound component of the port's
business. Duluth also has become a conduit for North Dakota-built wind power
equipment bound for domestic and export markets.
This rapidly changing scene is fraught with opportunities and challenges,
according to Ron Johnson, the port authority's trade development director.
"It's more than a moving target," he said. "Right now, it's a blurred
Jonathan Lamb, general manager of Lake Superior Warehousing, said the
current shipping season is off to a more modest start, but based on recent
inquiries and several large wind power projects in the works, including
Minnesota Power's plans to bring 500 to 700 megawatts of wind power online
in North Dakota in the next few years, he believes the port may be able to
equal the volume of equipment it handled last year.
To handle the massive wind turbines, blades, nacelles and towers the port
has been receiving, the laydown area around the terminal has been greatly
expanded. The port authority invested about $400,000 last year to ready more
than six acres of land for the equipment. Lake Superior Warehousing also
prepared an additional 25 acres of land at the Garfield C and D docks to use
as a laydown area.
Kubow said those types of investments wouldn't be made if the port authority
and Lake Superior Warehousing weren't confident about the future.
Part of that confidence is inspired by government mandates, such as
Minnesota's requirement that utilities in the state derive 25 percent of
their power from renewable resources by 2025.
"That's what I call government-impelled cargo," Kubow said.
PETER PASSI covers business and development. He can be reached weekdays at
(218) 279-5526 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Monday, May 19, 2008
May 19, 2008
We Energies wind project begins commercial operation
Largest wind farm to date in Wisconsin is on time and on budget
MILWAUKEE - We Energies’ Blue Sky Green Field wind project was placed into commercial service today. The 88 turbines have a demonstrated capacity of 145 megawatts and are expected to generate more than 328 million emission-free kilowatt hours annually - enough to power 36,000 homes.
“Blue Sky Green Field is one of several targeted efforts we’re undertaking to generate more energy from renewable resources,” said Rick Kuester, executive vice president of Wisconsin Energy Corporation, the parent of We Energies. “We appreciate the support we have received from our customers and from the communities of Calumet and Marshfield and northeast Fond du Lac County in making the project a reality.”
At a cost of approximately $300 million, the Blue Sky Green Field project consists of 88 Vestas Wind Systems turbines spread across 10,600 acres. Each turbine is capable of producing 1.65 megawatts of electricity. The V82 turbines have a hub height of approximately 262 feet and a blade length of 134 feet. From the foundation to the tip, each tower has a height 397 feet.
We Energies continues to pursue the development of additional renewable energy to meet customer demand and to meet the state of Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities across the state to generate 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2015. “While the Blue Sky Green Field project is an important contributor to our renewable goals, We Energies will need to add several more renewable projects to meet the state mandate,” said Kuester.
Construction of Blue Sky Green Field began in June 2007. The project was built largely with the talents of Wisconsin companies and craft labor. Collectively, more than 400,000 labor hours were devoted to completing the project. Although the turbines are now in operation, We Energies will be working with the landowners in the area to ensure that proper restoration from construction activity is completed.
- more -
We Energies serves more than 1.1 million electric customers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and more than 1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin. Its electricity prices are approximately seven percent below the national average. We Energies is the trade name of Wisconsin Electric Power Company and Wisconsin Gas LLC, the principal utility subsidiaries of Wisconsin Energy Corporation (NYSE: WEC). Visit the We Energies Web site at www.we-energies.com. Learn more about Wisconsin Energy Corporation by visiting www.wisconsinenergy.com.
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Saturday, May 17, 2008
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: |
April 29, 2008
Christine Real de Azua (202) 383-2508
OVER 600 INDUSTRY LEADERS SEE POTENTIAL FOR NEW JOBS,
BILLIONS IN ECONOMIC GROWTH IN WIND POWER SUPPLY CHAIN
AWEA Holds Supply Chain Workshop in Des Moines, April 29-30
Representatives from a diverse range of industries, including foundries, tooling companies, gearbox manufacturers, railroads and other transportation providers, electronics manufacturers and metal fabricators, as well as state economic development officers, will gather at the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Wind Power Supply Chain Workshop in Des Moines, Iowa, April 29-30.
Drawing attention to Iowa as a growing hub for wind power-related job creation, the Iowa Department of Economic Development is co-sponsoring the workshop.
“I'm honored to welcome AWEA to our state,” said Iowa Governor Chet Culver (D). “It is our responsibility to tap clean, renewable energy resources to spur investment and create new, green-collar jobs in Iowa. Communities across Iowa that have experienced real economic challenges, like Keokuk, Fort Madison and Newton, have recently seen a new rebirth by tapping into our booming wind industry. While each of these cities is in the process of adding hundreds of new wind-generation manufacturing jobs, this is only the beginning of what is possible.”
“Wind energy has not only helped power many parts of Iowa, but it has provided millions of dollars in economic activity to struggling communities,” added Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “Wind is an affordable and inexhaustible source of domestically produced energy. We must do everything possible to capture and grow this renewable source of energy all the way up the supply chain."
AWEA expects about 600 attendees, making the workshop the trade group’s largest ever as well as the first aimed at expanding the industry’s “supply chain,” or range of component suppliers.
“The U.S. wind power industry is a bright spot in our economy,” said AWEA Executive Director Randall Swisher. “Every megawatt of installed wind power creates employment in manufacturing, construction and operations as well as jobs in advertising, office support, environmental assessment and other related professions. America’s vast wind resources have barely been tapped, and we have only just begun to see wind’s potential to generate broad economic growth.”
Encouraged by the stability of the federal production tax credit (PTC), U.S. wind industry manufacturing has surged from a very small base in 2005 to more than 100 facilities in 2007.
In 2005, the average wind turbine contained less than 30% American-made components. Today, domestically manufactured content is approaching 50%. (A wind turbine is composed of some 8,000 components, ranging from towers and blades to gearboxes, generators, castings, ball bearings, and electronic components.) New facilities were opened or announced last year in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. These facilities are expected to create more than 6,000 permanent, well-paying jobs. Many of the fastest-growing wind industry suppliers in the U.S. are slated to attend the workshop this week.
“While the wind industry’s strong growth is encouraging, the PTC is in danger of lapsing at the end of this year,” said Swisher. “It is vitally important for Congress and the President to quickly extend the PTC—the primary U.S. incentive for wind power—as part of a long-term policy for renewable energy to foster investment in wind installations, manufacturing capacity and thousands of new jobs.”
At the workshop, industry leaders will discuss the need to ramp up U.S.-based manufacturing and state incentives that encourage such investments as well as projections for growth—which will be determined largely by whether the U.S. government puts in place a strong, supportive, stable policy for renewable energy, starting with a quick extension of the PTC.
For more information, contact Christine Real de Azua, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Akron - The nation's No. 2 wind turbine manufacturer spent most of this week in the state looking for parts makers.
California-based Clipper Windpower's search culminated Thursday at a luncheon at the University of Akron attended by about 50 Ohio companies with the know-how to turn out the myriad precision parts that go into the behemoth turbines.
Read more of The Plain Dealer's energy coverage.
"If we can find suppliers we can partner with, we'll do it," Todd Windeknecht, Clipper' s strategic commodity leader, told a crowd of about 80 at the Martin University Center on the UA campus. "We are looking for long-term agreements, at least five years."
Clipper built its first wind turbine in 2005, six in 2006 and 125 this year. It has already taken orders through 2011, said Windeknecht, describing the rate of increase as "vertical."
The company has built a turbine works in Iowa, where the requirement that utilities generate a portion of their power from renewable sources like wind has created a boom in wind farms. The turbine works employs 350. "We are hiring 30 to 40 people a week," Windeknecht said.
The industry is facing critical shortages in gears, bearings, towers and turbine blades, he said. Clipper on its own already has contracts with about a dozen Ohio firms. Windeknecht and two colleagues spent most of Thursday afternoon in one-on-one interviews with interested parts makers.
The event was the brainchild of the Cleveland-based WIRE-Net, a manufacturing advocacy organization that has created the Great Lakes Wind Network to help companies such as Clipper, General Electric and a bevy of foreign turbine makers see what Ohio has to offer.
Ed Weston, director of the network, said U.S. wind turbine production is expected to grow by 913 percent over the next four years.
The market potential for turbine supply chain companies has been estimated at $22 billion, he said.
Weston also invited Ohio Department of Development experts on wind and other renewable energies to the conference. The department has about $1 million to assist renewable energy development, and the staffers were meeting privately with interested companies.
Gov. Ted Strickland's electricity reform bill includes a provision that the state's utilities, by 2025, generate at least 25 percent of the power they sell here from renewable and other advanced technologies - a strategy he hopes will land an assembly plant in the state and generate thousands of new jobs, not only in turbine assembly but in the supply chain.
Utilities oppose or only marginally support the governor's bill. After six weeks of hearings, the Senate amended the bill in a way that wind advocates argue means wind farms will not be built here.
The Ohio House leadership expects to spend the entire winter considering the bill.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
ROCK PORT - It wasn't a ribbon cutting ceremony, it wasn't a ground breaking-- it was all about throwing a switch.
Welcome to Rock Port on Thursday, where the temperature was 44 degrees and the wind was blowing like crazy.
"What's interesting is my husband is in the oil business but that's alright, we're thrilled to have wind energy here. As Americans we need to get more independent," Rock Port resident Kim Bunton said.
"It's a big deal," Project Director Eric Chamberlain said. "It's a big deal for renewable energy and it's a big deal to be energy independent."
Chamberlain was born and raised in Rock Port.
"What we're celebrating is that the wind farm in Rock Port can produce more energy each year than what this community uses, and that has never been done before," Chamberlain said.
And that's why everyone showed up. From the celebration and speeches downtown to the city's power plant, the guy who made it all happen explained what it is all about.
"What we're showing here is the city is producing 2 megawatts more than they need, so in essence, this meter is running backwards," Chamberlain said.
That doesn't mean free electricity.
"I assume it will be lower because we're going to eliminate the transmission charges incurred," Rock Port Mayor Jo Stevens said.
So by putting these 250-foot tall turbines up on the hilltops...
"We live on a dead-end road and we've had more traffic the past year," wind farm landowner Mick Lewis said.
Lewis owns the property here, and he knows other Missouri farmers are watching.
"What's my message? Check out the people you're working with and do your research," Lewis said. "What I felt comfortable with was John Deere; I'll call it the big gun behind this."
Lewis said he also felt comfortable with Tom Carnahan, president of the Wind Capital Group.
"We have a nice windy day. I drove around, all the turbines were spinning and it just feels good," Carnahan said.
Coming from a political family, Carnahan can talk from a soap-box.
"The No. 1 thing we need to have is a national policy that says we encourage renewable energy," Carnahan said. "Right now we have a hodge podge policy. What we do consistently is help the oil and coal companies."
So who would have thought!
"Thanks for coming all the way from Columbia," Stevens said.
Rock Port only has a population of 1,316 but last week they threw the switch as America's first ever community completely powered by the wind.
"With wind you need a windy area. Fortunately for northwest Missouri, the bulk of it is here, but there are other places where this can be done, " Carnahan said.
Yes, northwest Missouri is windier than central Missouri. It takes winds of up to 9-miles per hour to get those blades spinning. Rock Port is now powered by four wind turbines. In all, 79 turbines are operational in northwest Missouri.
An Idea for Racine?