Wind Power Boosts Business for Minnesota Port

Anyone questioning whether wind power can provide jobs in addition to clean energy need only watch the everyday work going on at a port on the westernmost stop for oceangoing vessels on the St. Lawrence Seaway, a key port for shipping wind turbines and components into the heartland of North America.

As of this spring, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority expected five ships to deliver wind turbine components this year for destinations in Minnesota and Manitoba, and by mid-July all five had arrived. These contracts also serve to underline the expanding potential business that manufacturing, transportation and other aspects that wind power and other renewable energy industries can bring to the U.S. at a time of downward job pressures. The port authority worked with Lake Superior Warehousing Company, Inc. (LSW) to market the port to wind power companies. LSW President Gary Nicholson, Port Trade Development Director Ron Johnson and others invested time and energy in numerous trade missions and sales calls on wind turbine manufacturers and users since the mid-1990s in attempts to stimulate the trade. Their efforts have paid off. The first, the Bavaria’s, delivered 21 wind turbine blades earlier this spring. Manufactured in Denmark and the United Kingdom, the blades measured 132 feet long and weighed 16,000 pounds each. The shipment included other components for eventual truck delivery to Manitoba. The fifth of the ships, the Scan Arctic, arrived last month to deliver wind turbine towers. The other three ships carried wind turbine hubs and nacelles as well as another 24 wind turbine blades. Through the recent passage of a federal energy bill, the wind power industry has now secured their tax credit for the next two and a half years and that is a major reason for the increased business. “With the extension of the Federal Production Tax Credit, work has begun on a significant number of wind farm development projects,” said Johnson. “Most of the turbine components come from Europe, and we expect to handle a number of inbound ships through Duluth that will move by special trucks to two large wind farm developments in the upper Midwest. We have already begun to quote handling rates on 2006 wind farm developments.” Editor’s note: LSW did a great job of documenting and photographing the shipments and unloading operations on its Web site. A the following link, click on any of the ships for photographs of the deliveries (Bavaria, Ostkap, BBC France, BBC Shanghai and the Scan Arctic).
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