Samsung C&T Corporation and the Ontario government announced plans Wednesday to open a wind turbine factory in Windsor, Ont., and create 300 manufacturing jobs along with 400 indirect construction and service jobs.
The $40- to $50-million investment is a "game changer" for Windsor, said Mayor Eddie Francis at the David Suzuki Public School. Windsor has the highest unemployment rate in Canada.
Whether the company will opt to build a new factory or use an existing vacant facility won't be known until the end of the year, said Francis. A short list of possible sites exists and CBC sources said one of those includes the former GM transmission plant.
Energy Minister Brad Duguid said Windsor was chosen because of the automotive design and manufacturing skills of workers in the region, in addition to easy road, rail and shipping access to other parts of the province and the north eastern United States.
'The footprint of a new industry'
"We are putting down the base, the footprint, of a new industry," said Windsor-St. Clair MPP Dwight Duncan.
The new plant will be built and run by an Ontario-based subsidiary of CS Wind. Samsung officials said they will be hiring welders, painters and machinists who will earn wages in the range of $18 to $20 an hour. The facility is expected to produce 200 to 300 towers per year starting in September 2011. The towers will be produced using 200,000 tonnes of domestic steel worth $140 million.
Green jobs announcement 'first of many'
Energy Minister Brad Duguid called Wednesday's announcement the first of many green energy initiatives. Ontario plans to create 50,000 jobs in the green energy sector and discontinue coal-fired energy sources by 2014.
In an address that had the tone of an election speech, Duncan rejected Conservative Party criticism that investing in green energy is too costly.
"Let those who say this isn't the right deal give us an alternative plan," said Duncan. "Let them say where they're going get energy from. Let them say how they're going to close down the coal plants. Let them say how they're going to manage the price of electricity going forward."
Earlier this year, Samsung signed a $7.5-billion energy deal with the province in exchange for incentives to triple Ontario's renewable wind and solar energy generation. Some say it is the biggest renewable energy deal in the world. The company agreed to open four manufacturing plants by 2015 and create 16,000 direct and indirect jobs in green energy.
Francis wants to re-brand the city an "energy hub." Two European-owned solar manufacturers recently announced plans to set up shop in the city.
The Windsor announcement comes a day after Duguid welcomed the first of 27 Ontario-made steel towers to a wind farm project near St. Joachim.
"This is the first feed-in tariff project using 100 per cent Ontario steel - something that we're very, very proud of," said Duguid on Tuesday.
The St. Joachim wind farm will produce enough energy to power 16,000 homes.