Energy Composites wins stimulus funds for big-blade plant

With access to tax-free bonding authority, Energy Composites plans to build a facility to produce 65m wind blades by 2011.

Energy Composites Corp. (ECC, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., USA) on Feb. 9 announced a significant step forward in its development of a major new wind blade manufacturing facility on a 94-acre site in Wisconsin Rapids. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed legislation into law on Energy Composites' manufacturing campus on Friday, allowing Energy Composites access for the first time to a $238 million statewide pool of municipal tax-free bonding authority. The Recovery Zone Facility pool was created by the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, otherwise known as the Stimulus Bill.

"Tax-free bonds are a critical component of our financing plan for the 535,000 ft² plant," noted Sam Fairchild, Energy Composites' CEO. "Development costs for our new factory are too large for traditional industrial development financing programs, and the Recovery Zone Bond program, which expires at the end of 2010, is precisely the right solution at precisely the right time. Senator [Julie] Lassa recognized how critical tax-free financing is to our business model, and she moved with great agility and grace to ensure that we are eligible for this Federal program within a time frame that allows us to site the project in Wisconsin Rapids. For her diligence, foresight and confidence, we are most grateful."

Upon completion, Energy Composites' new plant will be among the most advanced in North America, with the capability to build blades up to 65m/213 ft in length that will supply both onshore and offshore wind farms. The plant will employ more than 600 employees, most certified through ECC's blade fabrication curriculum in partnership with Mid-State Technical College.

Fairchild added, "We will submit application to the Department of Commerce for access to the municipal tax-free status for the debt portion of our financing quickly, and move forward with the remainder of the financial structure for the new plant development. We anticipate beginning large production activities in the first quarter of 2011, following proving runs at the end of 2010, and believe that our timing will coincide with a strong upswing in demand for blades in early 2011."