At the same time, it offers yet another concrete answer (along with other wind equipment factories going up in Arkansas, South Carolina and elsewhere) to Congressional opponents of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES).
Those opponents have argued strenuously that an RES (a national requirement that utilities obtain a minimum percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources) will discriminate against the Southeastern U.S. because it has little in the way of commercial wind resources.
What this argument fails to take into account is, first, that the Southeast has enormous biomass energy resources (indeed, enough that it currently exports some) and second, that it stands to reap new manufacturing jobs from a strong American wind energy industry, in part because jobs in the region’s existing auto industry require similar skills. The new ZF Industries wind plant will be located just minutes away from an existing company plant that makes automotive equipment.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) was on hand for the groundbreaking, and here’s what he had to say: “Now [ZF Industries is] getting into the renewable energy sector. That’s a good field; it allows Georgia to participate in the renewable energy sector. While we may not be able harvest all the wind, it’s still an opportunity to make the products that will harvest the wind energy worldwide.”
By Tom Gray, www.awea.org/blog/
ZF breaks ground for wind energy expansion
By Jerry Gunn Staff
The Governor with ZF Division president Elizabeth Umberson, said the $90-million, 250,000 square foot plant, slated to open early next year, would create 215 jobs once fully operational in early 2012 in Gainesville’s new business park.
“Now they’re getting into the renewable energy sector,” The Governor said. “That’s a good field; it allows Georgia to participate in the renewable energy sector. While we may not be able harvest all the wind, it’s still an opportunity to make the products that will harvest the wind energy worldwide.”
Umberson, who heads ZF’s Commercial Vehicle and Special Driveline Technology Division, said her company’s automotive driveline expertise would be used to manufacture wind turbine transmissions to convert wind energy into electricity.
“There is a heightened global focus on renewable energy production, and we believe there is an opportunity to leverage our automotive driveline and chassis technology leadership in this exciting and growing alternative energy sector,” said Umberson said.
"ZF has been a great partner with Gainesville and Hall County for more than 20 years, and we realize the company could have located this new facility anywhere in North America,” said Kit Dunlap, president and CEO of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. “The company’s decision to locate this new business in Gainesville-Hall County and Georgia is a testament to the relationship we enjoy with ZF."
Georgia’s nationally recognized Quick Start workforce training program will assist ZF in preparing new hires for work in the expanding Hall County operations. Quick Start provides customized workforce training free-of-charge as an incentive for companies to create new jobs in Georgia.
With a workforce of 60,000 employees, ZF operates 123 plants in 27 countries. ZF invests at least five percent of its annual sales in Research & Development.