Friday, February 17, 2012
By Rowynn Ricks, The Woodward News
Woodward, Okla. — State, local, and wind industry officials welcomed Siemens Energy to Woodward on Thursday.
The energy company held a grand opening ceremony Thursday afternoon for its new Woodward Wind Service Distribution Center, which is located by the West Woodward Airport.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin was among several state dignitaries who attended the event, as well as State Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez and State Secretary of Energy Mike Ming and Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy.
"We're just thrilled Siemens has chosen Oklahoma," Fallin said as she addressed the crowd of about 200 in attendance.
"We know you have other sites, other states, other locations," she said, describing it as a "competitive marketplace" for wind industry development throughout the nation.
But, speaking of Woodward, she promised the Siemens executives in attendance that "you won't find a finer community that will support your mission, your effort to be here, to stand by your side and appreciate your investments and your jobs than this community, along with all of Northwest Oklahoma and the whole state of Oklahoma."
The governor went on to promise Siemens, "through our first ever energy plan for the state of Oklahoma, which Secretary Ming and I introduced, to do all we can to support your industry, whether it's telling Congress they ought to renew the tax credits for wind power or also offering those (credits) in our state."
"We value our wind in Oklahoma," Fallin said, noting "Good Lord, we have a song that talks about the wind comes sweeping down the plain."
Fallin said she believes it is the state's "friendly business environment which is welcoming to wind" that played an important role in "attracting a major international business like Siemens to our state."
Pete Delaney, CEO of OG&E, also spoke on Oklahoma's supportive business environment.
"This is a great state for doing business," Delaney said. "No other state has such a powerful private and public partnership and collaboration. So to Siemens welcome to that collaboration."
Sean Finnerty, senior vice president of renewable development for Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), agreed that "Oklahoma is a great place to do business," but added "Woodward is a really great place to do business."
Finnerty said CPV looks forward to continuing to develop its business partnership with Woodward as well as with Siemens, which will only be enhanced by having the new service distribution center close at hand in Woodward.
"CPV plans to do more projects in the region, which will likely be serviced by this facility," he said during the grand opening ceremony.
OG&E, which Delaney said has invested around $800 million in Oklahoma wind farm projects in partnership with Siemens, is also looking forward to having a service center in the state.
Tim Holt, Siemens' CEO for Renewables Service, said the energy company chose Woodward precisely because of its "great community support" as well as its "central location that makes it close to our customers so we can deliver parts and tools in a timely and cost efficient manner."
But the Woodward distribution center will not only provide parts and service technicians to area wind farms such as the Crossroads and OU Spirit wind farms.
Holt said the center will service turbines "from down in Texas all the way up to Iowa and Wisconsin." In covering this wide area, Holt said the Woodward center will provide parts and service to approximately 70 percent of the total 3,800 Siemens turbines throughout the United States. That's equivalent to well over 2,500 turbines and doesn't include Siemens turbines in Canada,which will also benefit from the Woodward center.
Holt said currently the Woodward facility has 15 employees "but we plan to eventually ramp that up to 40."
However, he said "it all depends on the growth of the wind industry." But, basically he said as more wind farms are developed, more wind technicians will be needed to service the turbines.
Fallin said she believes Siemens new distribution center will only lead to more growth in wind energy for the state.
"Our future in the wind industry is unlimited and now having this distribution center will only help to further expand the footprint of wind energy in Oklahoma," she said.