Under the developers agreement between the City of Wisconsin Rapids and ECC, the City has agreed to sell a 39 acre parcel and a 54 acre parcel in the Rapids East Commerce Center to ECC for $500/acre for the development of a major utility-scale wind blade production facility and associated logistics center.
The agreement provides for at least $7.5 million in development incentives from the City, including site improvements, job creation cash credits, and additional cash payments. The minimum incentive threshold was calculated based on ECC’s original plans for a facility that would produce enough blades to equip wind energy systems producing 750 megawatts of power per year. Since ECC’s final design will provide blades for more than 1,200 megawatts of wind power annually — a 60% increase in output — the Company anticipates that the final level of developers incentives from the City will grow significantly as the size of the total tax increment grows. Closing on the land acquisition will occur before the end of December.
Sam Fairchild, ECC’s CEO, stated that, "Our ongoing partnership with the City of Wisconsin Rapids, and this developers agreement, is a critical footing in our efforts to launch the world’s most advanced wind blade facility. I can’t say enough about the enormous contribution by Mayor Mary Jo Carson and her excellent staff in making this a reality. Mayor Carson gets it, and her hard work will generate economic benefit for the people of Wisconsin Rapids for many years to come. We also want to thank the Common Council for its faith in our combined vision and its recognition of our unwavering commitment to Wisconsin Rapids."
Jamie Mancl, ECC’s founder and President, noted, that "The process of working with the City and other parties produced a final plan that is dramatically better than the one with which we started. Mayor Carson and her staff were very patient with us as we shifted our plans in real time to capture newly-emerging trends in the market. For example, our final requirements for land and investment by the City reflects newly-emerging market trends in wind — a greater emphasis on development of offshore wind farms, and the longer wind blades required by those farms; a stronger need for more flexible logistics strategies, including the use of unit trains for shipping finished blades for installation; heightened sensitivity to the environmental impact of blade production; and a substantially higher degree of automation required for future blade production. As we worked through these and other refinements, our vision for our WindFiber Campus, and the more than 600 high-paid, permanent jobs it will create, took final shape."
Adrian Williams, WindFiber director and the central architect of the Windfiber strategy, commented that "This agreement sets all of the wheels into motion. ECC’s blade plant will be the first production facility in North America that is designed to produce blades up to 65 meters in length, ideally positioning us to deliver blade solutions for the coming generation of large-diameter onshore and offshore wind energy turbines. These larger machines, already in use throughout Europe, maximize energy capture and minimize the cost of energy produced. The WindFiber plant will enjoy maximum production design flexibility in order to meet the blade requirements of our customers. We will also be able to employ innovative supply chain strategies that will give us a strong competitive edge as well as unique product and manufacturing technologies that will deliver significant improvements in blade reliability, turbine availability and manufacturing efficiency. As we begin to break ground, we will roll out the details on these advantages to the marketplace, as well as the other key elements of our WindFiber strategy."
Mary Jo Carson, the Mayor of the City of Wisconsin Rapids, expressed her strong commitment to the success of WindFiberâ„¢, saying, "The City of Wisconsin Rapids has just taken a giant step into the world of "green" jobs. Energy Composites Corporation will be creating more than 600 non-exportable jobs in Wisconsin Rapids in the very near future. This means that the blades that ECC’s employees will be making for the wind energy sector are too large to be made and shipped to the United States from places like China. Our City is proud to be part of this project and we look forward to production beginning towards the end of 2010." Carson added that "The ECC projects is yet another example of the power of a public/private partnership, creating a long-term relationship that will benefit the City, the company, and the people of Wisconsin Rapids."
Fairchild added, "This is an important milestone. There are, of course several more ahead. With the developer agreement signed, ECC can now begin specific discussions with our targeted clients on schedules, costs, manufacturing requirements and the like. We can now finalize financing. We can nail down the final architectural requirements and place out bid packages. And we can begin to focus on the remaining parts of our WindFiberâ„¢ campus, including our research and development component. We are very pleased with our progress, and look forward to delivering substantial value to our shareholders, our clients, our employee-associates and our community."
ECC operates a world-class, automated 73,000 sq. ft. climate-controlled manufacturing facility in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, employing advanced composite materials to design, engineer and manufacture complex composite structures, vessels and processing systems for a range of clean-tech applications that include: wind energy system components, flue gas desulfurization for power plants, infrastructure for bio-fuel storage and processing, infrastructure for managing waste water and drinking water, advanced municipal utilities infrastructure, and caustic material storage and handling systems for the petrochemical, mining and the pulp and paper industries. ECC also provides 24/7 field service crews nationwide for wind energy system composites maintenance, repair and overhaul; industrial retrofit, shutdown and maintenance; system installation; and repair and inspection services.