This is an article I pulled from The Windsor Star. With new renewable energy plans there are hopes of upto 16000 new jobs for the Windsor and Essex County areas and countless spin off jobs to follow.
New windmills are presently going up in Harrow and Colchester area, take a drive and you will see them in the farmers fields near the shores of Lake Erie, quite a sight I must say. This shows us how Windsor and Essex county are becoming more diversified.
January 22, 2010
WINDSOR, Ont. -- The Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation has confirmed it is in discussions with Samsung as part of Ontario's blockbuster $7-billion green energy deal.
But WEEDC executive vice president Patrick Persichilli stressed that the region is still in the "relationship-building" process with the corporate giant.
"We have met with Samsung. We have been engaged in discussions with them. We're going to continue those discussions, and we look forward to continuing to build positive relationships," Persichilli said.
The McGuinty government announced Thursday that Samsung C&T and the Korea Electric Power Corporation will invest $7 billion to establish and operate wind and solar power clusters across the province, leading to more than 16,000 jobs.
The first of five phases of that plan will be built in southwestern Ontario, in Chatham-Kent and Essex and Haldimand counties, officials said Thursday.
McGuinty said there was no final word on where the rest of the capacity would be located.
"I don't think any final decisions have been made in that regard," he said. "But it's about putting transmission capacity in place where there's good wind and solar potential."
McGuinty added the location of the four new plants - which will employ an estimated 1,440 workers - hadn't been decided yet.
The siting of those plants will be up to the consortium, according to officials.
The deal requires Samsung to develop four major manufacturing plants in Ontario that will produce or assemble turbine towers, blades, solar inverters and solar modules.
Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said Thursday's announcement bodes well for Windsor and other communities hit hard by the downturn in manufacturing.
"The announcement today is a very positive announcement for the Province of Ontario," Francis said. "It's a game changer for the Province of Ontario, and obviously, by virtue of landing this investment in Ontario, and the nature of the investment, many cities like Windsor and Essex, many regions like Windsor and Essex, will be in a position to try to benefit from that type of announcement."
There has been speculation that Windsor could be the site of a large-scale solar farm and a plant that makes the "mother glass" for solar panels.
Persichilli would not get into such details on Thursday, citing the sensitive nature of the discussions. "It's too early to comment on that," he said.
Persichilli said there is fierce competition across the province for Samsung's attention.
"Obviously, all communities in Ontario are interested in this type of investment," he said. "We're not the only region, we're not the only economic development corporation that has been speaking to the company."
"We're going to continue on our path. We are aggressively seeking out this opportunity."
Asked what might give Windsor and Essex County an edge over other regions, Persichilli pointed to our historic manufacturing base with "one of the most capable, competent, highly skilled workforces that you will find anywhere - not only in this province, but anywhere in this continent."
The mayor agreed. "I think one of the strongest advantages that Windsor-Essex has now is that we have a large pool of an available work force that is highly skilled, that is highly capable, that is highly motivated, and that has a proven ability," Francis said.
"I think those qualities position us very well for many opportunities."
Francis said those promoting the city put a positive spin on the unemployment rate.
"Many people reflect on our high unemployment rate," Francis said.
"When we meet with investors, we remind them that what many might refer to as our unemployment rate, we refer to as our employable rate because you have 13 per cent of people, highly skilled people, ready to be employed.
They are ready, they are available, and they are employable at a drop of a hat. To us that's an advantage."
Persichilli also touted the region's geographic benefits, with our closeness to the U.S. market and our "great wind and great sun down here."
"We're going to continue to market those competitive advantages, those unique features, and see what happens."
Meanwhile, local companies involved in solar power reacted with reserved optimism to the McGuinty government's announcement.
Manish Nayar of OYA Solar Inc., a Windsor-based company that makes racking systems for solar panels, said he believes the region already has the manufacturing capability for solar power components.
"It will require some investment in capital equipment, but I think we definitely have the manufacturing experience," Nayar said. "We can do it."
"One of the other things that is going to give us an edge is the fact that we get some of the best sun in the province. (OYA Solar Inc.) is developing projects in Essex County for that very reason."
Klaus Dohring, president of the Windsor-based solar thermal collector company Green Sun Rising, agreed that local industry is quite capable of the glass, extruded aluminum framing, and general assembly aspects of solar module manufacture.
But Dohring said the "photovoltaic" technology of solar panels requires specific expertise that Windsor and Essex County currently lacks. "That is a highly specialized process which is very different from today's automotive processes," he said.
"That is the technology of converting sunlight into electricity."
Dohring said most of the world's photovoltaic work is currently based in China and Germany, with some in Japan and Taiwan - and North America far down the list.
Told of Dohring's caution, Persichilli pointed to Ontario's Green Energy Act, which has a "feed-in tariff" program requiring domestic content on renewable energy projects.
"This means that there's going to be a substantial amount of manufacturing in the province of Ontario. The nature of the program means you need to have some type of supply chain development," he said.
"We've always been good at making things.... We've got the transferability of those competencies in manufacturing, to shift from one industry to another very easily."
"(Dohring) is right in a sense, but I take a much more optimistic view."
Dohring expressed reservations about how the Samsung deal happened. He said the feed-in tariff program was established with the intent of creating a level playing field for renewable energy projects in Ontario.
"Now they're announcing a secret arrangement with one big player," he said. "That, in my viewpoint, is very concerning."
Dohring said he believes many companies interested in renewable energy in Ontario, such as his own, were surprised by the Samsung deal. "Nobody was aware of the fact that there is a back-door, separate deal (with a company) who is getting exceptional treatment."
But Persichilli said competition leads to market development, and market development means growth, increased revenue and prosperity for everyone.
"In my opinion ... there will be room for everyone. This is going to be a long-term process, a long-term investment ... and wherever their investment ends up going, the province as whole is going to benefit."
- With files from Lee Greenberg, Canewst News Service and Chris Thompson, The Windsor Star