Encouraging Oklahoma Manufacturers To Get Involved In Wind Industry
By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
BROKEN ARROW, OK -- Wind energy experts from across the country are encouraging Oklahoma manufacturers to jump on board. They say Oklahoma is prime territory as more wind farms are built nationwide.
It takes 8,000 parts to make up just one wind turbine. Hundreds of wind farms are popping up nationwide, including several in western Oklahoma. The parts for those wind turbines have to come from somewhere.
Ed Weston with the Great Lakes Wind Network in Ohio says Oklahoma is just as good a place as anywhere.
"I think Oklahoma is an excellent place to be as a manufacturer if you've got an appetite for growth," said Weston. "Because there's going to be wind turbine manufacturers all around looking for help."
Weston was in Broken Arrow this week encouraging Oklahoma manufacturers to look to the wind as another part of their business. He says there are two important reasons why Oklahoma can be a major player in the wind industry.
"It's close to the wind, which makes it close to wind turbine manufacturers that are setting up assembly plants, and they are looking for domestic suppliers," said Weston. "It's also close to the wind farms themselves and there's an opportunity for aftermarket work, particularly for repair parts."
There's one more advantage the state has, a close connection with the aerospace industry. The experts say the same work that goes into making airplane parts can make wind turbine parts.
"They're used to working very precisely and their business model allows them to make a limited number of parts every week," said Weston.
Right now, less than 50% of the parts for wind turbines are made in the U.S. but the goal is to get that up 90% made in the USA. Those in the industry say it can be done and Oklahoma could lead the way.
"The forgings, the machining, metal fabrication, a lot of that goes on in Oklahoma, particularly in the Tulsa area," said Martin Roberts, Oklahoma Department of Commerce.
Roberts says any business interested in getting connected to the wind industry should contact the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.