An Illinois-based company that opened a wind tower manufacturing facility in Abilene last year — then laid off about 25 workers less than a month after a ribbon-cutting — announced Tuesday an agreement to build more wind towers for a Spain-based manufacturer of wind turbine generators.
Broadwind Energy announced that its subsidiary Tower Tech will supply towers to be installed this year at wind power sites in the United States. The deal is with Gamesa Technology Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica.
The number of towers and the location of the sites were not announced. A spokesman for Tower Tech, John Segvich, declined to comment until after the company releases its quarterly earnings next month. It’s unclear where the towers will be manufactured, as the company has three manufacturing sites.
“Tower Tech specializes in the production of heavier and more complex wind towers, with which turbine manufacturers like Gamesa seek to expand the geographic footprint of wind power,” said Jess Collins, group president at Broadwind, in the news release announcing the agreement. “We are delighted to extend our long, successful supply relationship with Gamesa through this project.”
A spokesman for Gamesa Corp. did not respond to questions e-mailed Tuesday afternoon about where the towers will be installed. In May, Gamesa described itself in a news release as having installed 18,000 megawatts of wind turbine capacity worldwide. By comparison, Texas has 9,506 megawatts of wind energy capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Tower Tech’s Abilene manufacturing facility, housed in Five Points Business Park just west of the city, employed about 75 workers in January, according to survey information collected by the Abilene Industrial Foundation. But it wasn’t clear if that number reflected the layoffs of about 25 workers in January, and the company has declined to say how many employees work at the plant.
Tower Tech has received extensive financial support from the Development Corp. of Abilene, which administers the city’s half-cent sales tax for economic development. Financial support includes $2.7 million to help pay for the construction of the company’s plant. That money is being paid out over five years, as long as Tower Tech remains in business.
Richard Burdine, the DCOA’s chief executive officer, said in an e-mailed statement that he did not know how the Abilene plant would be affected by the deal to make towers, but he called the announcement “great news.”
Tower Tech also has manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin and South Dakota.
Broadwind also is the parent company of Energy Maintenance Service, which operates a facility in Abilene.
Broadwind has announced plans to open a wind turbine gearbox refurbishment facility by the end of the year.
In a recent interview, Burdine said the Energy Maintenance Service site, the former Lockheed Martin building in western Abilene, also may house the gearbox facility.
On Tuesday, Burdine wrote: “In regard to the gearbox facility, we are in negotiations with the company and will make an announcement when and if an agreement is reached.”
Broadwind stock rose 44 cents to close at $3.23 Tuesday on the Nasdaq, an increase of 15.77 percent.