Suzlon factory in Minnesota provides confidence boost

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Suzlon's new $15 million blade manufacturing plant in south-western Minnesota provides a fresh boost of confidence to an already flourishing Midwestern wind power market. The facility, located in Pipestone, features four buildings with a combined area of more than 230,000 square feet, about five American football fields. It includes the India-based company's North American maintenance hub, along with a storage area for spare parts. The main facility, which opened in November, will eventually operate around the clock, employ 275 workers and produce one set of three blades per day. Suzlon, which ranks among the top five wind turbine manufacturers in terms of annual megawatt of production, is intent on expanding its business outside India, where it sold 90% of its turbines last year. By 2010 the company expects 70% of revenues to come from China, Europe and the US. As Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas approach a combined 2000 MW of installed wind capacity with no slowdown in sight, the plant's middle-American location is expected to mitigate transportation costs throughout the North American market. "The wind industry is getting to be a bigger economic force for this region," says Lisa Daniels of the advocacy group Windustry. "Not only are turbines being put in the ground here, they're also being manufactured here. We've been seeing the blades transported on the freeway and it's really exciting."

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