Merrill Technologies Group, which has traditionally made automotive products in Michigan, has diversified into manufacturing wind turbines. The company invested $73 million in its Saginaw, Michigan plant to retool machinery to produce wind turbine components. Scott McKay, general manager for Merrill Technologies in Saginaw, is quoted in an article on the Energy Empowers website as indicating that the plant’s high-tech machining centers and robotic cells allow the company to be flexible and diversify to take advantage of the opportunities the company sees in renewable energy.
As reported on North American Wind Power, Merrill Technologies received a $22 million Advanced Energy Manufacturing tax credit under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and $3 million through the Michigan Clean Energy Advanced Manufacturing program to help finance the investment. The first utility-scale wind turbines manufactured and assembled in Michigan were unveiled at the end of October, 2010. Merrill Technologies’ wind turbine components will be used in Northern Power Systems’ new 2.2 MW wind turbine.
Bryce Martin, reporting on the unveiling of the wind turbine for the Midland Daily News, pointed out Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s promotion of alternative energy as a strategy for diversifying the Michigan economy. Granholm assisted Merrill Technologies in gaining the federal tax credit and encouraged the company to obtain customers in addition to Northern Power Systems, in a variety of industries. Merrill Technologies’ wind turbine components production involves more than 70 companies in its supply chain. And with the renewable energy standard adopted by Michigan in 2008 to have 10% of the state’s energy derived from renewable sources by 2015 and 25% by 2025, Michigan will need 1,250 wind turbines.
Northern Power Systems uses a permanent magnet direct drive technology that makes the wind turbines simpler, more reliable, and more efficient, generating wind energy at a lower cost. As indicated in a statement from the U.S. Department of Energy, Merrill Technologies manufactures the nacelles, which are parts of the wind turbines that sit above the tower and house the engine and other components of the turbine. The first wind turbine built with Merrill Technologies components was shipped to Stoney Corners, near Cadillac, Michigan, where it will produce enough energy to power more than 250 homes for Detroit Edison.
Terry Camp, reporting for WJRT TV in Mid-Michigan, quoted Bob Yackel, Merrill Technologies Group CEO, as stating that the company’s diversification into manufacturing wind turbine components has allowed the company to create or retain 100 jobs. And if production of the wind turbines takes off, the company will need hundreds of workers.
Bryce Martin, “Granholm visits area for wind turbine unveiling” – Midland Daily News
First Utility-Scale Wind Turbine Produced In Michigan – North American Windpower
Statement by Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Unveiling of First-Ever Large-Scale Wind Turbine Manufactured in Michigan – U.S. Department of Energy
Terry Camp, “High-tech wind turbine more reliable, efficient” – WJRT TV
VP100: Retooling Michigan: ‘Wheels’ to wind – Energy Empowers