Germany picks Hutchinson for a turbine plant

At last. Kansas will get a wind turbine manufacturing plant — about 20 years late.
The Kansas State Finance Council last week approved a $5 million bond issue to help Siemens Energy build a plant in Hutchinson to make the electricity-generating components of wind turbines. Siemens has a wind turbine blade plant in Iowa.
Germany-based Sie-mens expects to spend between $55 million and $65 million on the facility, which will be the first plant in Kansas to make parts for wind turbines, despite the fact that Kansas has always been a prime location for wind farms and should have been host to turbine plants when the industry was still taking form decades ago.
The Hutchinson plant eventually will hire about 400 workers, Siemens said.
Not to get overly somber about the subject, but Kansas, Texas, Colorado and the many other windy parts of this great land of ours ignored the energy-producing potential of wind turbines until the price of oil reached and then exceeded triple digits because of short-term thinking. Turbines, with their huges blades turning at a stately pace, graced the countryside in California and Hawaii but were not to be seen in our windswept prairies or on our Atlantic coast.
So the industry was pioneered by the Germans, the Dutch and the Spanish and ignored in the U.S., a country well-equipped to design and build turbines, or, for that matter, any other piece of high tech machinery.
The lesson to be learned is that we have made a huge mistake to move away from manufacturing and industrial design and give up those essential components of modern living to the Europeans and the Asians.
The United States of America led the Industrial Revolution for 150 years or more. That position of leadership was resigned as a matter of choice. The future, it was decided, lay in finance, in computer software, in insurance and other non-grimy ways to earn money.
As a result, Americans must turn to Germany to transform America’s wind into clean energy for Americans. There’s a lot wrong with this picture.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.