TPI Composites, a major supplier of glass fibre blades to GE Energy wind turbines, has inaugurated a 30,000 square metre blade manufacturing facility in Newton, Iowa. The company's Steve Lockard declines to say how many blades the facility will produce a year, but at full capacity it will employ 500 people. The factory is a prime example of "green collar jobs" that the wind industry is bringing to many parts of the US, adds Lockard. The Newton community's economy has slumped since industrial appliance giant Maytag closed the doors of its headquarters there. At its peak, Maytag employed 3500 in the town of 16,000 residents. "Roughly one out of every four, or one out of every five people was employed by Maytag, which means every family was in one way or another affected," says Lockard. "We're not putting back all the jobs lost by Maytag, but 500 jobs in the US is a lot of jobs." TPI also manufactures all blades for Mitsubishi wind turbines imported into America at a facility in Jaurez, Mexico. The Jaurez plant is a joint venture between TPI and Mitsubishi and is ramping up production to provide blades for 1200 MW of wind turbines a year (Windpower Monthly, May 2007).
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol