Thursday, March 11, 2010 | 4 a.m.
A consortium of companies announced plans today to develop a plant in the Las Vegas area that would employ about 1,000 people for manufacturing wind turbines.
Once up and running, the 320,000-square-foot plant would be one of the largest manufacturing employers in Southern Nevada and would build upon an already fast-growing local renewable energy industry that so far has focused on solar power.
Today’s announcement was made by private equity firm U.S. Renewable Energy Group (US-REG), Chinese company A-Power Energy Generation Systems Ltd. and real estate development company American Nevada Company of Henderson.
American Nevada — developer of Southern Nevada commercial projects and master-planned communities such as Green Valley, Green Valley Ranch and Aliante — and the Las Vegas Sun are both part of The Greenspun Corporation.
Bruce Deifik, president of The Greenspun Corporation, said the company would explore possible sites in the Las Vegas Valley ranging in size from 150 acres to more than 1,000 acres on which to build the green-technology manufacturing facility.
The plant, he said, would manufacture and assemble highly advanced wind-energy turbines that would be supplied to renewable energy projects throughout North and South America.
In today’s announcement, the partners credited Sen. Harry Reid for their decision to locate the plant in Nevada. They also cited affordable real estate in Nevada, the state’s skilled workforce and Nevada’s business-friendly climate.
Reid is a leader in developing renewable energy and his commitment to renewable energy and to promoting investment in Nevada was instrumental in the decision, the companies said in their statement.
"Senate Majority Leader Reid’s vision for the development of clean energy industries in his home state, Nevada’s position relative to the major wind corridors and the strength and sophistication of Nevada’s skilled workforce made Nevada the best option for our headquarters and assembly plant for North and South America," Jinxiang Lu, CEO and chairman of A-Power, said in a statement.
"When Sen. Reid found out US-REG and A-Power wanted to build a wind turbine manufacturing plant in the United States, he told us that Nevada was poised to be at the epicenter of America’s commitment to renewable energy technology," Ed Cunningham, US-REG managing partner, said in a statement. "Add to that Nevada’s business-friendly climate, we felt that Nevada would be the ideal place to invest in this manufacturing hub. This multi-million dollar investment in Nevada will further advance the Senate majority leader’s clean energy initiatives while allowing out-of-work Nevadans to re-enter the work force in high-paying, stable, green jobs."
In Washington, Reid spokesman Jon Summers said the announcement "is clearly great news for Nevada. We need the jobs and clean energy is Nevada's future, not only for short-term job creation but long term in diversifying the state's economy."
The U.S. Renewable Energy Group and A-Power Energy Generation Systems already have a deal to build a $1.5 billion, 600-megawatt wind farm across 36,000 acres in Texas that would supply energy for 180,000 homes. On Feb. 12, A-Power disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that a subsidiary made an initial cash capital contribution of $36.6 million for the Texas project.
On Nov. 17, US-REG and A-Power announced plans to build the wind turbine plant in the United States – but at that time didn’t say where.
The announcements Nov. 17 and today that the plant will be built in Nevada could help resolve concerns that U.S. stimulus money earmarked for the Texas project would support jobs in China as opposed to the United States.
U.S. Renewable Energy Group said in a statement March 3 that a minimum of 70 percent of each wind turbine, including the massive towers and blades, would be manufactured in the United States from American steel.
A-Power, based in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China, said that after selecting a suitable Nevada site it intends to arrange the financing of the costs of site acquisition and the construction and operation of the plant from its own funds.
For A-Power, this the latest in a series of energy deals announced in recent months. In September, A-Power said it agreed to buy EVATECH Co. Ltd. of Kyoto, Japan, for $49.9 million. Among EVATECH’s products are photovoltaic panels. In July, a subsidiary announced plans with Macau Natural Gas Go. to construct an offshore liquefied natural gas complex to import and store natural gas and sell it in Macau and elsewhere in China.
A-Power says it’s the largest provider of distributed power generation systems in China and that in 2008 it entered the wind energy market and has built one of China’s largest wind turbine manufacturing plants in Shenyang.
Distributed power generation systems involve the generation of electricity from several small sources, as opposed to one major power plant.