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Archive: DMI sets up wind turbine plant

Originally published Oct. 17, 2005
Construction will begin in a few weeks for a new industrial plant at the old Ronal factory in Stevensville.

DMI Industries of West Fargo, North Dakota, will fabricate heavy steel wind tower components.

The company expects 100 people will be employed when it goes on stream in late winter or early spring.

President Lars Moller briefed local reporters Thursday morning in advance of an official announcement today (Oct. 17) in Toronto at the Canadian Wind Energy Association conference.

While declining to be specific for competitive reasons, Moller said the investment in Stevensville is “more than single digit millions.”

The company builds towers upon which wind powered turbines generate electricity — modern day windmills.

DMI will roll steel into eight-foot “cans” which are welded together to form sections approximately 20 metres long.

A complete tower may have three or four of these sections. Inside the sections about 5,000 individual parts that support their final use as wind turbine towers will be installed in West Fargo.

The Stevensville facility will be the first wind tower plant in Canada.

The largest towers in the world support turbines capable of generating five megawatts. DMI’s towers currently can support a two-megawatt turbine — enough power for about 2,000 average household microwave ovens.

DMI holds a 25 per cent market share in North America for wind towers, and Moller said the investment in Stevensville will increase its position.

Wind energy in Ontario received a boost last year with the government’s official sanction for development of wind power.

Moller said wind is the least expensive source of renewable energy.

Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation general manager Jim Thibert said DMI is leading a cutting edge industry.

“They’ve done everything to dot their I’s and cross their T’s,” he said. “I’m very comfortable they will launch quickly.”

Moller said he was impressed with the way people in Fort Erie were able to manage the proposed project from the outset.

“A lot of people know a lot of things but can’t put two and two together and get stuff done.”

He said the Stevensville plant will have an initial capacity of 400 to 500 tower sections per year.

The company will hire local welding and steel forming tradesmen, general management, supervisory, human resources and accounting personnel.

DMI Industries is one of 13 subsidiaries of Otter Tail Corporation whose shares are traded on the Nasdaq exchange.

It has more than 3,300 employees and more than $880 million (US) in revenues. As well as heavy steel fabrication, it operates an electric utility, and has interests in plastics, manufacturing, health services, and food ingredient processing.

DMI began fabricating wind towers in 1999 and had delivered 1,500 complete towers by 2005.

Ontario lags behind Alberta and Quebec in total wind power generation with only about 15MW of capacity currently, compared to 475MW out west and 212MW in Quebec.

A number of wind farm projects are currently in development in Ontario, notably in Nanticoke.

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