Chinese Wind Power Plant Coming to U.S. Soil

Includes: APWR, GE
by: John Lounsbury

Two days ago it was solar power panels. On Wednesday, A-Power Energy Generation Systems (NASDAQ:APWR), a Chinese wind turbine maker, announced (see New York Times article by Kate Galbraith here) plans to start construction of a wind turbine production plant somewhere in the U.S. next year.

A-Power has signed an agreement with private equity firm US-REG (U.S. Renewable Energy Group) to locate a site for the new plant and to participate in the development and construction of the facility. Initially the plant is expected to to be 320,000 square feet and produce 1,100 megawatts of wind energy turbines annually, enough to power 330,000 homes. The facility is expected to employ approximately 1,000 American workers. The announced plan calls for many of the key wind turbine components to be sourced from U.S. manufacturers, further expanding the number of jobs created in the United States. Of course, new construction will also produce jobs of a less permanent nature.

"The decision to construct this wind energy facility in the United States is the direct result of America's commitment to renewable energy and the strength and skill of the American workforce," said Cappy McGarr, US-REG Managing Partner. "This project expects to create thousands of American jobs..."

A-Power is the turbine supplier for a planned wind farm in Texas that will cover approximately 36,000 acres. The wind farm will cost about $1.5 billion, with a capacity of 600 MW. This project will use about 50% of one year's production from the proposed plant. US-REG is also co-developer, along with China's Shenyang Power Group (SPG), of the wind farm. A-Power is a shareholder in SPG.

About 85% of the components of the wind turbines will be sourced in the U.S. The nacelles (high value gearboxes) will be sourced in China, but assembled in the U.S. To further complicate the internationalization of these projects, A-Power has a Joint Venture partnership with GE Drivetrain Technologies (NYSE:GE) to produce wind turbine gearboxes (nacelles) in Shenyang.

It is likely that political pressure has accelerated these moves to more U.S. manufacture. The Texas project had been criticized by Sen. Charles Schumer (D, New York) because it appeared to be proceeding with imported turbines. According to the New York Times article, Schumer has welcomed the new announcement.