With global demand for wind energy skyrocketing, two companies are building new plants in the Midwest to make composite wind-turbine blades for Atlanta-based GE Energy.
TPI Composites Inc. is heading a $56 million effort in Iowa, and Molded Fiber Glass Cos. is leading a $40 million program in South Dakota.
TPI announced its plans for a 316,000-square-foot factory in Newton, Iowa, on Nov. 26.
The plant, which is scheduled to start production by mid-2008, may hire some of the nearly 1,800 who lost their jobs when Whirlpool Corp. closed the former Maytag Corp. headquarters and washer-dryer factory in Newton.
Eventually, TPI may employ 500 in Newton.
Opus Northwest LLC, a unit of Minnetonka, Minn.-based Opus Corp., is building the $13.5 million plant and will lease it to TPI.
Jasper County, Iowa, intends to issue general obligation bonds worth about $4.85 million, including $3 million for Opus, $600,000 for TPI and, for the site purchase, $600,000 for the Jasper County Economic Development Corp.
The Iowa Department of Economic Development is negotiating to provide job-creation funding to TPI.
Steven Lockard, TPI's president and chief executive officer, said the Warren, R.I.-based company will deliver blades to sites within 600 miles of the new plant.
MFG broke ground for its 332,700-square-foot plant in Aberdeen, S.D., on Nov. 19. It intends to start production in May. MFG may employ up to 750 within three years and may send many of the site's first 50-100 workers to a MFG plant in Gainesville, Texas, for training.
Richard Morrison, chief executive officer of Ashtabula, Ohio-based MFG, said South Dakota and local officials made MFG welcome and won the project in a competition with five nearby states.
The Aberdeen Development Corp. will own and lease the $21 million facility to MFG.
Family-owned MFG operates 14 operations in the U.S. and one in Mexico and makes composite parts for numerous industries.
GE Energy, a unit of General Electric Co., expects its wind business sales to top $4 billion this year. GE Energy has wind-turbine design, manufacturing and assembly facilities in Germany, Spain, China, Canada and the United States.
The Washington-based American Wind Energy Association projected in 2007 that the wind-energy industry may install equipment capable of generating enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes.
TPI, meanwhile, recently added composite wind-blade production in Ciudad Ju rez, Mexico.
VienTek Mexico S de RL de CV, a joint venture between TPI and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s Power Systems Americas Inc. unit of Orlando, Fla., opened the plant in October. The operation is the joint venture's second wind-blade production plant.
TPI has other composites operations in Warren and Springfield, Ohio. The firm is constructing another wind turbine blade plant for GE Energy in TaiCang, China, with a projected opening in mid-2008.
In October, TPI gained $22 million in equity funding from NGP Energy Technology Partners of Washington, Angeleno Group LLC of Los Angeles and an affiliate of Landmark Partners Inc. of Simsbury, Conn.
Landmark Growth Capital Partners LP and senior TPI managers acquired TPI in 2004.