In the wind Rockford Berge unite

March 13, 2009
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Rockford Bergé, a partnership that combines wind farm construction with comprehensive logistical services, will bring much to the West Michigan region, but jobs are not the most notable aspect.

The new joint venture between Rockford Construction and Spain-based Bergé Logística Energética creates marketability for West Michigan as a leader in the wind turbine industry, said Birgit Klohs, president and CEO of The Right Place Inc.

“This is a 130-year-old global logistics company that is world class. They’ve elected a partner in West Michigan in an industry where we see significant, significant opportunity for West Michigan,” said Klohs. “This will give us at Right Place another marketing tool to say we have one of the world’s best logistic companies in the wind turbine industry now aligned with one of our finest companies. It will add the ability for us to market this industry and the potential that it has in West Michigan, globally.”

Klohs plans to speak about the new company at an alternative energy conference in Berlin, Germany, on April 1.

A study done by The Right Place Inc. on wind turbines as an industry in West Michigan projected that 4,500 jobs would be created in a five- to seven-year span. The biggest gain, however, still remains the marketability this new collaboration lends to OEM’s across the country.

While the new Rockford Bergé will be based in West Michigan, the company will target the entire Great Lakes region. The West Michigan connection is Bergé Logística Energética’s first venture into the U.S.

“We believe this state is at a turning point. It is ready to lead the Great Lakes region in the new arena of renewable energy,” said Jorge Gonzalez, project manager with Bergé. “Michigan is a state with a number of unique qualities, including an already established manufacturing base.”

Gonzalez also cited the many ports that service the surrounding region as well as Canada. The most important asset, of course, was wind. The state ranks 14th in the country for the amount of wind available, but 22nd in the amount of energy produced — making for an underserved and untapped market.

While there are only two currently operating wind farms on the east side of the state, there are more than 30 sites either under construction or in the research phase.

Rockford Bergé will be involved with the sourcing, construction and on-site management for both smaller scale wind farms and utility-scale projects. Smaller scale wind farms typically involve 150-foot high turbines that are generally located in cities or smaller communities. Utility-scale projects use turbines of more than 350 feet in height.

Michigan has the capability to generate more than 16,000 megawatts of power from onshore sources and 330,000 megawatts from off-shore sources, according to a recent Michigan State University study.

Washington D.C.-based consulting firm MAPA Group, which specializes in bringing together global suppliers, is also active in the new relationship. MAPA will also serve as a strategic partner to Rockford Bergé. MAPA will connect international manufacturers to U.S. partners to assemble, produce and locally source. Roughly half of the wind turbine parts used in the United States come from overseas sources.

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