3 August 2015 – Monroe News
Senator Dale Zorn along with other officials take a look inside a section of tower manufactured by Ventower during a tour of that facility Thursday afternoon. As the overhead crane slowly carries a tube of steel larger than some garages, visitors in hardhats gazed at what many believe is a piece of the future of energy in Michigan and beyond.
At Ventower Industries, a group of legislators and environmentalists toured the sprawling, 115,000 square- foot facility at the Port of Monroe where workers are producing 300- foot- tall wind tower bases 24 hours a day. Observing the process that begins with a sheet of Americanmade steel being bent into a tube that will be welded to others to eventually create a tower that will hold the rotating blades, the visitors saw first-hand how a renewable resource equates to local jobs. “ This is jobs, this is the economy, this is technology, this is Michigan energy at work,” said State Rep. Bill LaVoy, D-Monroe.
With lawmakers in Lansing debating the language for a new energy bill, the tour of Ventower was the second such field trip taken in recent weeks to showcase Monroe County’s dedication to renewable and clean energy. Gregory Adanin, chief executive officer of Ventower, said the plant has expanded since it began production in 2012 and the company now employs 170. Business is doing well, he said, and wind can compete with fossil fuels. “It is competing already,” Mr. Adanin said. “ Twenty- four- hour production is a good indicator of how well we are doing.”
The 2008 energy law being reworked now that expires at the end of this year requires 10 percent of Michigan’s electricity to be produced by renewable energy. So far there are about 880 wind turbines across the state, which in 2013 provided about 2.5 percent of the state’s electricity. advertisement State Rep. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance, said it is vital that the energy bill be completed with an emphasis on renewable and clean energy. “ We have to have the energy bill going forward,” he said. “ This is an excellent example of jobs being created through renewable energy.”
Production of the tower bases has increased shipping out of the Port of Monroe. Ventower builds just the towers, not the blades, which are being used in wind farms across North America and other parts of the world. Piecing together the steel tubes into 300- foot white towers is a process that takes about a week. From bending large sheets of steel into giant tubes, to welding them together with precision uses human skill and state- ofthe- art technology. “ We forget how cool it is because we see it all the time,” said Quality Manager Joe Craft, who came to Monroe from Texas to join the company. “ It is impressive. I couldn’t imagine working for anybody else.”
State Sen. Dale Zorn, RIda, said the new energy policy introduced by the senate includes, among other details, energy waste reduction, maintaining the 10 percent alternative energy requirement with conditions and to provide a green pricing program for customers who can choose to purchase electricity from renewable resources. Ventower, Sen. Zorn said, is a successful company that is doing its part to increase renewable energy production that will help give customers that option to choose green pricing. “ This is just an amazing setup,” Sen. Zorn said during the tour. “Companies like Ventower are showing success in their commitment to renewable energy.”