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Hiring blitz for 100 in Tillsonburg as blade-making plant ramps up

By Norman De Bono, The London Free Press

A flatbed transports wind turbine blades destined for the Port Burwell area along Hwy. 401 east of London. (Free Press file photo)

A flatbed transports wind turbine blades destined for the Port Burwell area along Hwy. 401 east of London. (Free Press file photo)

Wind turbines are sprouting across Ontario, feeding demand for parts and creating manufacturing jobs.

Siemens Canada’s wind turbine blade manufacturer in Tillsonburg is in a hiring blitz, adding about 100 to its 200 employees.

“We are delivering Ontario-made blades for Ontario projects. That is something we should all be proud of,” said Jacob Andersen, vice-president wind power with Siemens Canada. “This is a real benefit for this region.”

The Siemens plant opened in the fall and has ramped up quickly. It’s one of four manufacturing plants Ontario landed through a $5-billion investment deal between Korean industrial giant Samsung and the Ontario government.

London has landed a solar parts plant, to open by year’s-end, two years after the Liberal government promised it during an election, as part of that deal.

“Projects are starting to come to fruition and we now have a backlog of projects,” said Bill Smith, senior vice-president of the energy sector for Siemens Canada. “There is a real benefit here for Ontario.”

Siemens delivered its first blade to a wind farm in Chatham-Kent in July and is churning out blades almost daily, Smith added.

The growth comes amid continued opposition to wind turbine developments, especially in rural areas, although the province has restored some local planning controls to communities and some wind companies are compensating other landowners in the regions.

Brandy Gianetta, regional director for the Canadian Wind Energy Association, is not surprised by Siemens’ hiring, adding it’s happening elsewhere, too. A German manufacturer recently opened a plant in Niagara Region.

“I think communities are beginning to see local benefits of wind projects coming to fruition. This is creating long-term jobs in manufacturing. We are seeing auto parts supply plants refurbished to supply wind parts,” Gianetta said.

Gianetta agreed with forecasts that the green energy sector will create 31,000 permanent jobs in the province.

Wind energy now produces 4.3% of the energy in Ontario, she added. For the first time, that outstrips coal, which feeds 2.8% of power to the grid. In 2003, 25% of Ontario’s power was from coal.

“Wind has become a mainstream resource. The grid in Ontario now has a diverse mix,” said Martine Holmsen, manager of communications for Independent Electrical System Operators in Ontario.

“It is clear wind is a growing resource around the world. Alberta has significant generation and it is growing rapidly in the U.S,” and Ontario must keep pace or be left behind, she said.

norman.debono@sunmedia.ca

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BY THE NUMBERS

Wind energy in Ontario

4.3: Percentage of Ontario energy from wind.

2,043: Total megawatts (MW)*

47: Wind projects across Ontario.

14: Additional large-scale projects forecast for spring 2014

*(one megawatt equals one million watts and can power 1,000 homes)

Large-scale wind farms operating in Ontario

Amaranth (I and II) Wind Farm (200 MW)

Prince Wind Projects (I and II) (189 MW)

Kingsbridge Wind Power (40 MW)

Ripley Wind Power Project (76 MW)

Port Alma (T1) (101 MW)

Underwood Wind Farm (182 MW)

Port Burwell Wind Farm (99 MW)

Wolfe Island Wind Power Project (198 MW)

Port Alma (T3)* (101 MW)

Gosfield Wind Project (50 MW)

Spence Wind Farm (Talbot) (99 MW)

Dillon Wind Centre (Raleigh) (78 MW)

Greenwich Wind Farm (99 MW)

Pointe Aux Roches (49 MW)

Source: The Independent Electricity System Operator


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