Windmill builder Nordex USA Inc. is forming a joint venture to develop a 300-MW wind farm in Gratiot County, Mich., near the center of that state. The Beebe Community Wind Farm LLC, Nordex USA’s partner in the venture, is a “community-based” development started in 2007 that aims to use a land-leasing arrangement in order to share the economic benefits among local landowners.
The terms of the venture were not released, but Nordex USA’s president and CEO indicated that it would have a financial stake in the Michigan project. “As a turbine manufacturer, we consider it important not only to provide reliable and efficient turbines, but also to support our customers in the course of project development,” Ralf Sigrist stated. “Nordex has added value to developers in Europe through such partnerships for almost 10 years, and we are happy to bring this service now to our U.S. customers.”
Nordex USA is an operating subsidiary of Germany’s Nordex Energy GmbH, which designs and builds wind turbines.
The Beebe Community Wind Farm is scheduled to begin construction next year, and will be completed in two phases. The next phases will follow in 2014.
The project has over 20,000 acres under lease, and recently finalized local building permits. Local resident Mark Hull, who is the principal of Beebe Community Wind Farm, initiated it in 2007. A power purchase agreement with an electrical utility has not been finalized.
Hull engaged Nordex in 2010 with an order for 125 of its new N117-2.4 MW turbines, which are designed for low-wind sites. Based on the Nordex 2.5-MW class of turbines, the N117 series have the longest rotor blades in the category, which reportedly increases generating potential and results in an average 15% yield increase over previous designs.
“We were initially interested in Nordex’ turbine technology for our class-3 wind site,” said Hull, “but including them in the project team has considerably accelerated our development efforts. Wind projects require specialized expertise in several complex areas, so having Nordex on our side has been a true asset.”
Nordex USA reports it will manufacture the turbines at its new plant in Jonesboro, Ark. It opened the plant in October 2010, having completed the project in July after nine months of construction. The plant was announced in 2009 with a budget of $40-million, but Nordex has stated it is a staged development that will eventually cost about $100 million.
The company has 150 employees in the U.S. and 42 at the Jonesboro plant, but Nordex USA anticipates a domestic workforce of up to 700 by 2014 as it expands production.
The new Arkansas operation is producing nacelles— the large housings that contain an engine and other critical turbine components atop a windmill tower. A second stage of development is planned at some future date to assemble rotor blades for windmills.