The Company also said that it had been notified by the State of Wisconsin Department of Commerce that its application for access to $45 million of tax-exempt coverage under the State’s Recovery Zone Bond Program had been approved.
ECC purchased two parcels in the Rapids East Commerce Center – a 54-acre parcel that will be the site of the Company’s new 535,000 square foot utility-scale wind blade manufacturing plant and a 41-acre parcel that will house the Company’s logistics center.
The City of Wisconsin Rapids has site improvements underway, and has committed to at least $7.5 million in development incentives, including site improvements, job creation cash credits and additional cash payments.
Adrian Williams, Director of WindFiber, stated that, “We are making good progress towards commissioning of our new wind blade plant. Our partnership with the City of Wisconsin Rapids, evidenced by our purchase of the 95-acre parcel, is critical to our efforts to launch the world’s most advanced wind blade facility.
ECC’s WindFiber™ plant, which is designed to produce as many as 1,500 utility scale wind blades per year for use in onshore and offshore wind energy farms. The Company expects to start commercial blade production by the end of the first quarter of 2011.
“We also want to thank the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce for their swift action to approve our application for use of the State’s Recovery Zone Bonds facility,” Mancl added. “The Department approved us for our full request of $45 million in tax-exempt authority, which will allow our lenders to avoid federal taxes on the interest generated by the bonds. This lowers our cost of borrowing and makes it more attractive for our lenders to provide us with the debt portion of the financing package for the new plant. The Recovery Zone Bond program is one element of the Federal stimulus program.”
“Our partnership with the City of Wisconsin Rapids, and with Mayor Mary Jo Carson, has been very important to our success,” Jamie Mancl, ECC’s founder and President, noted. “On behalf of all of the associates at ECC, I want to thank the City for its faith in our vision. We are excited with our progress to date. We have narrowed our building contractor selection down, and we believe that the outcome of this competition will deliver a WindFiber™ manufacturing plant that is certified Gold under the LEED certification process within the boundaries of our initial cost estimates. We are also making good progress on our logistics facilities, which will include a 50-rail car staging area intended to drive substantial costs-savings to our wind blade clients. From strategic, environmental, logistics and market perspectives, we are fully on track to make Central Wisconsin the epicenter of the composites-in-wind world.”
Wind energy is, perhaps, the most cost effective and plentiful source of alternative energy, and it remains a centerpiece of America’s plan to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and make measurable progress in reducing the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.
Federal policy and budget support, coupled with state mandates, private investment and increasingly favorable wind farm economics indicate that demand for wind energy systems components, including the composite-based nacelles, rotors, blades and towers that will be fabricated by ECC, will triple over the next several years. In addition, ECC’s on-site capability to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) on composite components of installed wind energy systems will expand aggressively. We enjoy category-leading advancements in composite materials, manufacturing processes and performance technologies that will ensure our prominence in wind energy for many years to come.
The market opportunity is substantial, and ECC is well positioned to benefit from the accelerating growth in demand in the years ahead. In 2008, the US wind industry installed nearly 4,800 large wind turbine systems, including over 14,300 individual wind blades. Under the newly-passed stimulus package, the United States will add at least 25,000 megawatts of new capacity from wind over the next three years, or nearly 17,000 new large wind turbines and 51,000 blades, resulting in at least $50 billion in new acquisition spending. More than $12 billion of this demand will target the composite structures (blades, nacelles, nosecones) associated with wind energy systems. ECC will reap a significant portion of this demand, perhaps as much as 7% with the full execution of our wind business plan, especially in light of our advancements in materials for use in fabricating these composite structures, our lifecycle-cost-reducing innovations in blade systems, and our unique sourcing strategies that will help to keep our costs among the lowest in the industry.
ECC’s on-site maintenance, repair and overhaul capability and 24/7 field crew organization will enable us to capture a good share of the $3 billion US MRO market for wind energy systems in the US. With more than 20,000 wind systems in operation, many older than the 20-year expected life for early-stage composite structures, the US will face increasing requirements for repair, replacement and overhaul on existing systems.
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 biofuel storage and processing, infrastructure for managing waste water and drinking water storage, 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.