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Turbine manufacturing lacks infrastructure

Developing a wind turbine manufacturing and servicing industry in Natrona County is hampered by a lack of buildings large enough to house the massive equipment, a local economic development expert says. Robert Barnes, president and CEO of the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance, pointed out that it takes a large structure to contain a bay area that can accommodate a 75-foot wind turbine blade.

Developing a wind turbine manufacturing and servicing industry in Natrona County is hampered by a lack of buildings large enough to house the massive equipment, a local economic development expert says.

Robert Barnes, president and CEO of the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance, pointed out that it takes a large structure to contain a bay area that can accommodate a 75-foot wind turbine blade.

"The challenge is simply getting the infrastructure in place that will allow a company to quick-start," he said.

Barnes said wind projects often are driven by tax incentives. At a recent gathering, a Duke Energy manager reported being under pressure to have a wind farm producing by the end of December "because the company needs the tax credits in this tax year," he said.

Against such deadlines, allowing a lot of time to construct new facilities isn't an option.

At the same time, an analysis conducted in 2008 for CAEDA by Business Facility Planning Consultants of Norcross, Ga., identified several competitive advantages Casper might have in manufacturing turbines of all sorts.

One could be substantially reduced operating and capital costs. To construct a building,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Developing a wind turbine manufacturing and servicing industry in Natrona County is hampered by a lack of buildings large enough to house the massive equipment, a local economic development expert says.

Robert Barnes, president and CEO of the Casper Area Economic Development Alliance, pointed out that it takes a large structure to contain a bay area that can accommodate a 75-foot wind turbine blade.

"The challenge is simply getting the infrastructure in place that will allow a company to quick-start," he said.

Barnes said wind projects often are driven by tax incentives. At a recent gathering, a Duke Energy manager reported being under pressure to have a wind farm producing by the end of December "because the company needs the tax credits in this tax year," he said.

Against such deadlines, allowing a lot of time to construct new facilities isn't an option.

At the same time, an analysis conducted in 2008 for CAEDA by Business Facility Planning Consultants of Norcross, Ga., identified several competitive advantages Casper might have in manufacturing turbines of all sorts.

One could be substantially reduced operating and capital costs. To construct a building, the cost was determined at about 82 percent of the national average.

Lower labor costs also were touted. "The national average annual pay for a typical turbine plant is estimated from various public and private sources to be about $62,000," the report said. "It is estimated that a similar pool of employees could be hired in Casper-Natrona County for an average of $52,000."

The work force was viewed favorably by the consultants. "It would be a transfer of skills from one set of industries to another," Barnes said, so people with good mechanical skills could be trained or retrained to fit the needs of the new industry.

Casper already has in place hundreds of people who work in machinery and fabrication plants.

The study concluded that "Casper-Natrona County is an especially appropriate and attractive location for facilities which manufacture turbines and related equipment, especially those which use wind power to generate electricity."


Source: http://www.trib.com/article...

JUN 28 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/20870-turbine-manufacturing-lacks-infrastructure
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