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Blade Dynamics to build wind turbine blades in La.

Tue, 08/17/2010 - 12:13pm
ALAN SAYRE - AP Business Writer - Associated Press

A new partner in Blade Dynamics Ltd. says the company will build advanced wind turbine blades in New Orleans, creating at least 600 jobs over the next decade.

Devens, Mass.-based American Superconductor Corp., which builds equipment for power generators and utilities, acquired 25 percent of Blade Dynamics for $8 million Tuesday. American Superconductor says space at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility will be used for the project.

The state is providing an incentive package of up to $30 million that will be based upon meeting capital investments and job creation standards.

The state has been seeking new tenants for Michoud where Lockheed Martin Corp. is ending the production of external fuel tanks for the space shuttle program.

At the height of the shuttle program, about 5,000 people were employed building tanks. Most of the remaining 1,000 employees will lose their jobs this fall. Although Michoud was expected to play a major role in Constellation, a program to carry astronauts back to the moon and perhaps eventually Mars, but the Obama administration has moved to scrub that plan.

The New Orleans area also was hit by the recent announcement that Northrop Grumman Corp. would shutter its Avondale shipyard in 2013. About 4,700 people now work there.

Gov. Bobby Jindal called the turbine blades plan "a huge economic win for New Orleans and our whole state."

Dow Chemical Co., through its venture capital group that invests in startup companies, also made a small equity investment in Blade Dynamics, which was founded in Great Britain in 2007. Blade Dynamics said it has developed designs to increase the efficiency and performance of high power wind turbines to generate power on a larger scale.

American Superconductor CEO Greg Yured said Blade Dynamics provides "a game-changing wind turbine blade technology."

"This is a momentous day for Blade Dynamics," said the company's founder and CEO, Paul Rudling. "With strong support from the state of Louisiana and NASA and new allies in Dow and AMSC, our company is positioned for exciting growth in the years ahead."

The announcement was made by American Superconductor before financial markets opened. In early afternoon trading, its shares were up 82 cents, or 3 percent, at $28.34.

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