Hovering on the edge of investment

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Overseas wind turbine manufacturers are once again showing an interest in building turbine assembly plants in the US. Other than Enron Wind's facilities in California, no other utility sized turbines are built in the country. But none of the prospective industry newcomers are willing to move until the federal government secures a longer term market with a serious extension of wind's expired Production Tax Credit (PTC).

Vestas boss Johannes Poulsen confirmed last month that Portland, Oregon, "is one of the places we're looking at" to set up a wind turbine manufacturing facility. Vestas, he adds, has not given up on all thoughts of basing such a facility, its first in America, in Colorado, something it said it was considering last year. "Our final decision awaits a new PTC arrangement," says Poulsen. "But if this does not come until several months into the year and only applies for half a year or just one year, then it's clear that it will not provide the basis on which to make such a major decision."

Meantime, India's rising wind energy star, Suzlon (Windpower Monthly, October 2001), is aiming at becoming "a fully integrated North American wind power company" and has set up shop with a small staff in Houston, Texas. Suzlon Wind Energy Corp says it will develop projects throughout North America. The company markets two turbines rated at 350 kW and 1 MW and hopes to eventually engineer and manufacture its products in North America. Suzlon currently operates what is describes as "technology development centres" in the Netherlands and Germany. The company says it has installed 600 turbines in the past ten years. American industry veteran, Bob Lynette, is part of the Suzlon US team.

Nordex USA has also expressed an interest in a US manufacturing base. Vice-president Robert Paul said in December the German company might build a plant in Montana to fill a need driven largely by the growth of the wind market in the Northwest (Windpower Monthly, January 2002).

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