Wind power report: Michigan a site of leading growth

Michigan ranks among the top 10 states for wind energy jobs and new wind energy projects, according to the report, which was released Thursday morning. Energetx Composites manufactures fiberglass wind turbine blades, among other products.

Energetx Human Resources Manager Steven Busch, who read the American Wind Energy Association’s report, declined to mention any specific contracts held by Energetx. But his comments about the company reflected the findings of the report.

“We’re ramping up several big projects,” Busch said. “It’s looking like it’s going to be a very demanding summer and fall.”

Busch said he had about 30 openings he was trying to fill at Energetx.
The group ranked Michigan seventh for its total number of wind energy jobs, estimated between 4,000 and 5,000. Michigan also was ranked ninth among the 50 states for the capacity of its wind energy projects, 348 megawatts, that are under construction in 2012.

Michigan is known as a wind-manufacturing hub with more than 30 wind manufacturing facilities and more than 2,000 manufacturing jobs, according to the report. More than $400 million was invested in 2011 in new Michigan wind farms, growing the state’s wind capacity by 130 percent.

In a webinar with national news media, American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode seemed to reference companies like Energetx Composites when she talked about those she has seen make the transition into the wind industry.

Energetx composites was started by the Slikkers family in 2008. Previously, the family had focused on boatmaking with companies like S2 Yachts, Inc. and its subsidiary Tiara Yachts.

“When we make a wind blade, it’s not very different from some of the processes in the marine industry,” Bode said.

The wind industry now is waiting to see if the wind energy production tax credit — set to expire in 2012 — will be renewed by Congress.

“Wind turbines can compete with natural gas, coal and oil, if it’s only given a level playing field,” Busch said.