Advanced wind turbine company looking to launch in Michigan

I don’t know where the right fit is – whether it’s something more suitable to the Water Street development, the site of the former Visteon plant on 94, or the piece of property across from the Corner Brewery still owned by the Motor Wheel Corporation – but I have to think that one of those three would be perfect for the advanced wind turbine endeavor mentioned yesterday in Crain’s Detroit Business. Here’s a clip:

Two Michigan firms are working to launch a new wind-turbine component manufacturing venture that is a high priority for the state and could advance the industry’s technology.

The venture, spearheaded by Sterling Heights-based MAG Industrial Automation Systems L.L.C. and Dowding Machining Inc. from Eaton Rapids, would have two main functions: design and manufacture state-of-the-art machine tools to make massive wind-turbine components with reduced time and cost, and build a new generation of wind turbine blades out of carbon fiber.

“The strategic goal is to drive the cost of wind energy down to the same level as carbon (based fuel),” said Roger Cope, president of MAG’s strategic business development group and one of the venture’s principals. “And right now, they’re very far apart.”

The endgame? To be the first to apply advanced, automotive-style manufacturing processes and advanced materials to wind-turbine components manufacturing…

One would think that GE would already have made a great deal of headway toward making the manufacturing process more efficient and incorporating new materials, but, generally speaking, I like the idea of using our skilled workers to address the underserved wind market… Anyway, I think it would be worthwhile to make a call, and offer them a deal here in Ypsi, if they’re able to come up with the funding to launch the new initiative. Here, on that subject, is a clip from today’s American Machinist:

As Michigan has begun the process of reemphasizing its manufacturing base with a focus beyond the automotive sector, two local companies are in the process of launching a wind-turbine component manufacturing venture that could advance the industry’s technology…

One of the chief challenges is to secure financing, which is highly problematic in this economy. Cope says about $135 million is needed to fund a plant that is equipped with specially designed machine tooling…

One wonders if, by placing the plant in a struggling community like Ypsilanti, there might be federal stimulus dollars, tax credits, etc available. It certainly couldn’t hurt to have someone in our Congressman’s office, or at Ann Arbor SPARK, call Roger Cope and initiate a conversation on what our community has to offer.

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5 Comments

  1. Memphis Blues Again
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Surely there are some federal stimulus dollars to be had for retooling an automotive plant in an economically depressed area for alternative energy component production. Visteon is right on 94 and it would be perfect. Our politicians need to start earning their pay in Washington.

  2. roots
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Yes!

  3. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I heard that this was being considered for the port of Monroe, in an old Ford plant there…

  4. Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    FYI… I just got an email from John Dingell urging me to join him in the fight to save the Willow Run plant in the Township, so he does seem to get involved in these matters. I wonder what it would take to get him to fight for the City too.

    Here, for those of you who are interested, is his note on Willow Run.

    Join Me in the Fight to Save GM Willow Run Ypsilanti Transmission

    http://www.friendsofwillowrun.com

    Congressman John D. Dingell

    On June 1, 2009, General Motors (GM) announced plans to shutter the Willow Run Ypsilanti Transmission Operations (YTO). Together with community leaders, union officials and YTO employees I am fighting this misguided decision by GM and we need your help.

    I have urged the company’s leadership to rethink their decision to close this historic plant, known as the “Arsenal of Democracy”, famous for building the B-24 bomber that helped the U.S. and our allies win the Second World War. With tax abatements from Ypsilanti Township, support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and recent investments in the plant by GM itself, it appears to make little financial sense for GM to close such a high-efficiency plant as YTO, which assembles the highest quality six-speed transmissions for $145 cheaper than any other comparable facility in the United States.

    The YTO is the lifeblood of our community and I am fighting to keep it alive. Join me in this critical effort because we must all be engaged and active in order to protect our community. Please visit my website for Friends of Willow Run to see what is being done to save the Arsenal of Democracy and how you can help in this important fight.

    -Congressman John D. Dingell

  5. Dan
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    Nationalize the arsenal of Democracy!

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