The centers will serve as headquarters for GE’s highly trained wind turbines technicians in the region; helping to bring together a wider network of support and expertise to best meet customer needs.
"With its strong wind power resources and available land, the Midwest is a key area for wind energy development. The new center will enable us to provide a wider range of services to our customers throughout this important region by centralizing our resources, tooling and management support," said Diarmaid Mulholland, general manager–wind farm services for GE Power & Water.
Opened in December 2009, GE’s Pipestone, Minn., office currently services an installed base of 573 GE 1.5 megawatt (MW) wind turbines. Online earlier this year, the Albert Lea, Minn., office supports an installed base of 507 wind turbine generators. GE also plans to open a service center in Iowa, which will provide support to 571 1.5-MW wind turbines in the area.
The regional service centers will be similar to GE’s existing wind turbine service center in Sweetwater, Texas, the state that leads the nation in installed wind power capacity. "Since the opening of the Sweetwater center, we have seen measureable improvements in wind turbine availability and other customer benefits," said Mulholland. "With the service center structure, we will be better able to support our customers as we continue to grow our wind service portfolio."
GE’s wind turbine service centers provide customers with performance warranties, operation and maintenance services and turbine upgrades. "We are focused on value for our customers through efficient wind turbine operations and managing the world’s best run fleet," said Mulholland. GE’s global installed base of 14,000 turbines is serviced by more than 900 highly trained wind service technicians worldwide.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, the Midwest offers the greatest development potential for the U.S. wind power industry today. Much of the nation’s new wind power capacity is being built in the Great Plains region, which has a favorable combination of characteristics: ample wind resources, an extensive rail and highway network for shipping outsized turbine components, flat topography, which both improves the wind and makes turbine components easier to ship and broad acceptance from local farmers and ranchers.