In May 2013, Global Blade Technology’s (GBT) new molds, tooling, and blade production plant went on-line in Evansville, Indiana, bringing back to life the 1 million-square-foot Park 41 facility, formerly a Whirlpool factory before it shut down in 2010.
GBT was incorporated in the Netherlands in 2009 and is steadily increasing its share of the U.S. wind market. Its Evansville facility currently has 11 full-time employees and, with new projects lined up since January 2013, the company plans to boost its labor force by up to 35 highly skilled workers.
GBT sets itself apart from other domestic manufacturers by focusing on building the molds and tools for turbine blades, says general manager Dan Oberle. The company plans to build a larger turbine production facility in southern Indiana, but has not committed to a time line for expansion.
While GBT follows a business model that does not rely on government assistance to remain profitable, local and state incentives including training and dislocation grants, low-interest loans, and enterprise zones have helped the company establish itself in Evansville. And the PTC is a crucial mechanism underlying the domestic wind industry. The incentive has enabled the wind industry to get off the ground and remain competitive with heavily subsidized fossil fuels.
“Wind energy,” says Oberle, “can be competitive on its own merits, with or without the PTC. The real problem is the uncertainty.” At the last minute, Congress extended the PTC for another year, making all wind projects begun in 2013 eligible to receive the credit. Investors view market potential over decades-long intervals, and fickle tax policies will lead them to look for surer bets, like fossil fuels, which have subsidies that are protected by powerful lobbies in Washington, D.C. Despite feeling the headwinds of the PTC’s uncertainty in 2012, GBT is moving ahead in 2013, creating skilled jobs in Indiana.
— Environmental Entrepreneurs
Photo credit: GBT