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Granholm Says Windspire Manufacturing Facility is Creating Jobs as Part of Comprehensive Plan to Grow State's Renewable Energy Sector

April 20, 2009

Mariah Power, MasTech Manufacturing to make revolutionary turbine in Manistee

LANSING - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today said the $4 million Windspire manufacturing facility in Manistee that will create up to 140 jobs is in keeping with Michigan's plan to grow the renewable energy sector, create jobs and reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil in the process.  The partnership between Nevada-based Mariah Power and Michigan-based MasTech puts an underused auto plant to work as a factory for the Windspire, a wind-power system for homes and businesses.

"Michigan is proud to be the place where these two companies are partnering to create jobs making these easy-to-use turbines that can generate energy at a home or business," said Granholm during grand opening ceremonies at the facility.  "Demand for wind-energy products will continue to grow as federal initiatives to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil advance.  The Windspire, manufactured by Michigan workers using Michigan materials, will help Americans rely on energy made, literally, in our own backyards."

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) supported the project with a $400,000 federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to assist MasTech with financing the equipment to produce the Windspire, which connects directly to a residence or business.  The quiet, easily installed 30-foot-tall vertical wind-power appliance, which has no propellers, can reduce energy costs by producing enough electricity to power 25 percent of the average home.

Mariah Power is investing $2 million to buy steel and hire up to 140 workers over the next three years.  MasTech is investing $1.5 million in new equipment for the Windspire plant.

The 30,000-square-foot Windspire site is a retrofitted auto parts automation manufacturing facility.  The plant will employ former auto industry workers who have experience working with steel, building assembly lines, and using auto robotics.

"The partnership between MasTech and Mariah Power demonstrates how we can put Michigan's strong manufacturing infrastructure to new use making renewable energy products that are in high demand," said Greg Main, MEDC president and CEO.  "MasTech chose to locate here, rather than in other states or overseas, in part because of our experienced manufacturers who can quickly apply their machining and advanced technology skills to making the Windspire.  This is one of the many industries where Michigan can leverage its manufacturing strength."

The manufacturing site has the capability to produce 1,000 Windspire wind turbines per month.  Almost 98 percent of components for the Windspire wind turbine will be purchased from Michigan companies, including Alro Steel in Cadillac, Whitehall Industries in Ludington, Norton Packaging in Grand Haven, and Amptech Inc. in Freesoil.

Michigan's success in bringing the project to Michigan is part of Granholm's aggressive strategy to make the state a leader in the renewable energy industry and transition Michigan to a green economy that creates tens of thousands of jobs.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that Granholm signed into law last year is already increasing demand for wind and other clean energy.  The RPS requires that at least 10 percent of electricity produced in the state comes from carbon-free sources by 2015.  In her State of the State address, Granholm called for a 45-percent reduction in the state's use of imported fossil fuels for generating electricity.  Granholm also has established six Centers of Energy Excellence around the state to foster the growth of the renewable energy industry.

An entire new industry related to renewable energy also is taking root in the state.  Last week, four cutting-edge advanced-battery companies committed to investing $1.7 billion in Michigan, creating more than 6,600 jobs, thanks to the state's unique and aggressive refundable tax credits.  This positions these companies well in their quest to land some of the $2 billion in federal grants available for related research and development.

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