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Innovation & Startups

The future of wind energy manufacturing looks bright

Brad Foote has been making high-quality, precision gear components since it bought Pittsburgh Gear in 1953. Today 60 percent of the company's Neville Island manufacturing revolves around the making of precision gears for wind turbines.

"Brad Foote ended up in the wind energy supply chain as a result of our vision to take traditional manufacturing to the next level," explains Rich Baker, plant manager for Brad Foote, now part of Broadwind Energy of Naperville, IL."Participating in the wind supply chain was a defining moment for us."

The company's transition to a maker of parts for the wind energy supply chain is one that other local manufacturers are considering.

More than a dozen regional manufacturers attended a workshop this week that hopes to encourage like-minded thinking, the growth of the local wind energy manufacturing supply chain here. With Gamesa, GE Wind and Iberdrola Renewables already in the state, 50 companies in the existing the supply chain and $650 million available to expand the alternative fuel and clean energy sector, growing the wind energy supply chain makes sense.

"Gamesa (in Johnstown) is sourcing components from Spain," notes Dewitt Peart, president of the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. "Why import products that we can make right here? We want to make sure our manufacturing community is fully aware of this opportunity and the assistance that's out there."

The workshop was presented by the Great Lakes WIND Network in collaboration with the following partners:The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, Catalyst Connection, Manufacturing Assistance Center, The Tech Belt Initiative, 3 Rivers Clean Energy and West Virginia Manufacturers Association. Funding was provided by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Companies in the region considering wind supply chain manufacturing opportunities include: Converteam Inc., Eaton Corp., Everpower Renewables, Holtec Manufacturing, Kennametal Inc., Pennsylvania Breaker, PPG Industries and Tetra Tech.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Rich Baker, Brad Foote; Dewitt Peart, Allegheny Conference

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