The Brevini wind turbine plant announced for western Delaware County comes at just the right time, experts say, as the United States invests in — and gives tax breaks to — wind energy development.
“It’s a pretty exciting time in wind energy,” said Julie Clendinin of the
American Wind Energy Association.
State, federal and local officials gathered last week to announce Brevini —
an Italian gearbox manufacturer founded by brothers in 1960 — would relocate
its U.S. headquarters from the Chicago area to Delaware County and build its
first stateside manufacturing operation here.
A $62.5 million investment, the facility will employ 455 people by the time
it is operating in 2010 and have an annual payroll of $20.9 million.
Aside from the impact of hundreds of jobs, officials hailed the development
as a step toward “green” manufacturing locally. Brevini’s 150,000-square-foot
facility will be built to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) standards, which gauge environmentally sustainable construction. The
company said some of the facility’s power will be generated by gearbox
Beyond the environmental standards of the building, however, Brevini’s local
plant could join a boom in the growing alternative energy industry.
“The U.S. market for electricity manufacturing is so great, a lot of turbine
manufacturers are looking to site in rust belt states,” Clendinin said.
“Facilities for the auto industry are well suited for manufacturing. It’s a good
fit for those states.”
Locally, Brevini will build its own plant and not re-use a former facility,
but members of United Auto Workers Local 287 said last week they hope to
transition from jobs at the closing BorgWarner Automotive plant to jobs at
Clendinin and Mike Dergis, a principal with Roland Berger Strategic
Consultants in Troy, Michigan, noted that Congress recently passed an extension
of a federal tax credit for wind energy production development.
“That provides some long-term security for the industry,” Dergis said.
Economist Michael Hicks of Ball State University said the location of the
Brevini plant “made perfect sense” because of access not only to Interstate 69
but the number of major highways passing through Indiana.
“It’s a prime location,” he said.
The wind energy group noted that the industry grew by 45 percent in 2007,
with 5,200 megawatts installed.
“The wind power industry is facing shortages of wind turbine components, as
demand for wind power continues to increase in the U.S. and worldwide,” the AWEA
Dergis noted that there were risks involved with getting into wind
“Obviously, there’s a risk that wind generation doesn’t grow as fast as the
predictions,” Dergis said. “But I believe on a global basis, we will see that
growth continue. If all the states jump into it, and a lot of new competitors
join the race, we could be at over-capacity and that would result in a shakeout
and mergers. But at the moment, we’re not near that point.”