MEXICO PLANT BOOMS WITH WIND
Maquiladoras have flourished in the post-NAFTA era. Some have been accused of abuses. Here is one that looks like it might be trying to do the right thing, providing state-of-the-art blade manufacturing for wind turbines and amenable conditions for its workers.
The new plant described in this post broke ground March 12 and started production October 18. Could that have happened on the Texas side of the border?
Maquila benefits from wind-energy growth
Louie Gilot, November 15, 2007 (El Paso Times)
Wind turbine blade manufacturer VienTek LLC (General Manager Michael Cochrane); mega wind turbine maker Mitsubishi;
At work on a turbine blade. (click to enlarge)
VienTek LLC makes wind turbine blades for Mitsubishi. With the boom in the wind energy industry, VienTek’s business has expanded so much it has just opened a 2nd plant, VienTek II.
- According to the Department of Energy, wind energy is the fastest-growing energy technology, expanding 30% to 40% yearly. It is still only a little more than 1% of US electricity.
- VienTek opened in 2002 and has since made 4000+ blades.
- VienTek is in Juarez, Mexico. It is a joint venture between TPI Composites Inc. (Rhode Island) and Mitsubishi Power Systems (U.S. headquarters in Florida).
- Blades are shipped out of Santa Teresa, not El Paso.
- VienTek II adds 131,000 square feet to existing manufacturing space of 346,000 square feet.
- At full capacity, VienTek II will have 10 production lines of 44.7-meter and 46.2-meter 5 to 10 ton blades for new Mitsubishi 2.4-megawatt turbines. The old 29.5-meter blades were for 1-megawatt turbines.
- 900 employees, mostly men, laying fiberglass and resin into giant molds. They use a patented form of vacuum infusion to pour the resin.
- 176 new employees were recruited in 3 days last September. Training takes 2 weeks in a designated “training school” area of the plant. There is also a gym and a soccer field on the property.
Baja has wind resources. Maybe Mitsubishi and VienTek should start thinking about building transmission to population centers. (click to enlarge)
- Cochrane, VienTek GM: “[VienTek II was] designed with some foresight on what the next generation (of blades) might be -- taller, wider, longer…"
- Norberto Perea, VienTek human-resource manager: "…we didn't have any problem (recruiting) because right now VienTek has a good reputation in the community and people want to work for us…"