$5.4M wind turbine project blows Windsor's way

A U.S. wind turbine manufacturer has announced a $5.4-million deal to begin production in Windsor, Ont.

A U.S. wind turbine manufacturer has announced a $5.4-million deal to begin production in Windsor, Ont.

Michigan-based WindTronics will produce small residential and commercial turbines at the former Innovatech Seating Systems plant on Sprucewood Avenue on the city's west side. It will also conduct research and development.

The Ontario government will contribute $2.7 million to help WindTronics establish its Windsor operations. WindTronics will invest the balance.

The company hopes to create 174 jobs at the plant by 2012, but WindTronics president Reg Adams said there will also be "work in the installation process."

"It takes two people a day to install a turbine," he said. "For every couple of hundred of jobs we create here, it takes about a thousand jobs in the field."

A much-needed investment

The announcement is good news for Windsor, whose struggling automotive industry has helped contribute to an unemployment rate of 14.8 per cent, the highest in the country among cities.

It's a sign people "believe in our city," said Ontario Economic Development Minister Sandra Pupatello, who's also the MPP for Windsor West.

"We're looking to turn the page and look at new opportunities and grabbing them," she said. "To see people arriving here and looking at great opportunities in our community, it's about time."

WindTronics expects to be producing "about 5,000 turbines" a month by May 2010, Adams said, with additional expectations of producing 10,000 a month by June or July.

"We currently, right now, have requests from 68 countries for the product," he said. "So it's a very exciting project."

Built for houses, towers

The Windsor plant will produce the WT6000 Honeywell Wind Turbine, which measures 1.8 metres in diameter and weighs 77 kilograms.

It can be installed on the roofs of houses and industrial buildings, as well as towers and barns.

It can produce 2,000 kilowatts of energy per year, or what WindTronics estimates is up to 18 per cent of the electricity used by the average home.

WindTronics's project is the first in what Pupatello and Ontario's minister of finance, Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Dwight Duncan, hope will be a long list of "green economy investments."

"Our skilled and productive workforce and business environment, which we continue to make more competitive, are helping the province to attract innovative and growing businesses like WindTronics," Duncan said in a press release.