Northern Power Systems Tapping Michigan Partners for Utility-Scale Wind Business

12/21/10

Northern Power System, the Barre, VT-based wind energy firm, has made some progress in its years-long pursuit of the lucrative market for utility-grade wind turbines. The company has made much of this progress here in Michigan.

Last month the company shipped its first prototype of a utility-scale, 2.2-megawatt wind turbine to Traverse City, MI-based Heritage Sustainable Energy. Northern Power produced the prototype with the aid of Merrill Technologies Group and a network of suppliers throughout the Great Lake State, company CEO John Danner said. His company has leased manufacturing facilities from Merrill in Saginaw, MI, for future turbine production as well.

The company, which a group of investors purchased out of Chapter 11 in June 2008 after its previous owner went broke, has been working for years to translate the design advantages of its smaller, 100-kilowatt turbines into the large turbines that are typically used on wind farms that supply energy to the grid. Within a few weeks, Danner said, the firm’s partner, Heritage, is expected to complete installation of the 2.2-megawatt prototype turbine at is Stoney Corners project in southern Missaukee County.

Northern Power, which got its start in the mid-1970s, was in the news earlier this month for its role in Michigan’s first large-scale wind turbine manufacturing effort. The company’s turbine production in the state was held out as an example of Michigan’s progress in building up its wind energy sector, which Governor Jennifer Granholm said was key to diversifying the state’s economy and creating clean technology jobs. For its part, Northern Power could employ as many as 137 works in Michigan by 2014, according to the state.

While Danner declined to offer specifics on when his company plans to begin full-scale production of its turbines in Michigan, he did offer some insights on why his company has chosen the state as a hub for its utility-scale wind energy business. One plus he touched on was the state’s standard that 10 … Next Page »

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