With a 200,000-square-foot wind tower manufacturing plant planned for Ottawa, Schuff Steel is the latest company to become part of Kansas’ growing wind industry.
At full capacity, the plant would employ 200 to 250 people and produce 300 wind towers a year.
Schuff Steel is the fourth company to bring wind manufacturing plans to the state since Siemens Energy announced in May 2009 that it would build a wind turbine production facility in Hutchinson.
“It has been a great year in terms of continuing to develop infrastructure for wind energy growth,” said Joe Monaco spokesman with the Kansas Department of Commerce. “This is just another example of wind energy related companies recognizing Kansas as a great location.”
Schuff Steel had originally planned to build the plant in North Dakota, but reconsidered that location after the company changed how the towers were going to be manufactured.
“Mostly it was the fact that we had an existing facility in the middle of the wind belt,” said Dennis Randall, who is the executive vice president of Schuff’s Midwest Division.
The Ottawa plant, which has been operating since the mid 1970s, is working on a prototype for the wind tower.
That prototype is a new generation of wind towers that will stand 100-meters high. Instead of tube towers that are difficult to transport because of their length, the company will make structural towers that can be broken down into smaller pieces and then assembled on site.
“It solves one of the major issues in the wind industry, over road transportation,” Randall said.
The new 200,000-square-foot plant will be built in the company’s current location in Ottawa. The majority of the new jobs created will be filled by regional workers, Randall said.
The company is asking that a $7 million tax credit received for its North Dakota plant be transferred to the one in Ottawa, Randall said.
As the largest steel fabrication and erection company in the United States, Schuff Steel has experience with other renewable energy projects, such as solar energy. However, the Ottawa plant will be its first venture into wind related manufacturing.
“We are convinced it’s an emerging industry,” Randall said.