Michigan-made Windspires designed for homeowners

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LANSING — MasTech Manufacturing LLC and Mariah Power have come together in Manistee to produce Windspires, allowing Michigan to move closer to Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s renewable energy goals.

Mariah Power developed Windspires for household use. They do not have propeller blades but an airfoil, which spins on a vertical axis, Berry said. They are about 30 feet high and 4 feet wide.

Mariah Power is spending $2 million to buy steel for Windspire production and hire 140 workers over the next three years, while MasTech is investing $1.5 million into the manufacturing site to update and retrofit equipment.

Granholm said, "If you can make a part for a car, if you can bend steel for a car, you can bend steel for a wind turbine or you can make a solar panel.

"Demand for wind-energy products will continue to grow as federal initiatives to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil advance.”

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. supported the project with a $400,000 grant.

MEDC President Greg Main said, "The partnership between MasTech and Mariah Power demonstrates how we can put Michigan's strong manufacturing infrastructure to new use making renewable energy products that are in high demand.”

MasTech chose Michigan over other states and foreign sites because of its experienced manufacturers that can apply advanced technology skills, Main said.

Amy Berry, communications director for Mariah Power, said it chose the site because workers had the experience with the components required to create Windspires, and the governor was committed to Michigan being the center of renewable energy production.

“We had the opportunity to manufacture a better quality product at a competitive price to China,” Berry said.

Mariah Power will get the product’s components from Alro Steel Corp. in Cadillac and Whitehall Industries Inc. in Ludington, along with Norton Packaging Inc. in Grand Haven, and Amptech Inc. in Freesoil.

The manufacturing site owned by MasTech is a 30,000-square-foot structure that makes automation machinery for the automotive industry. That work will continue but the majority of the facility will be converted to make the Windspires, Berry said.

Because the automotive industry is down, MasTech had been looking into other manufacturing opportunities.

At current production, the facility can create 300 a month, Berry said, and should reach the site’s potential of 1,000 a month within a year.

Granholm said, “Michigan is proud to be the place where these two companies are partnering to create jobs making these easy-to-use turbines that can generate energy at a home or business.

“Demand for wind-energy products will continue to grow as federal incentives to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil advance.”

Windspires are available to consumers for about $4,000, plus a $1,000 installation fee. Berry said they have a 1.2 kW rating during 25 mph winds and can produce 2,000 kW annually. They have the potential to meet roughly 25 percent of a home’s electricity needs, she added.

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