Broadwind Energy lands $70 million order for wind towers

August 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Broadwind Energy Inc. said it won a $70 million order for wind towers last month and now has enough business in place to keep its plant in Manitowoc and another one in Texas busy through the first half of next year.

With a tower backlog of $200 million at the end of July, the Illinois-based company says the outlook for the tower business is the strongest it’s been in three to five years.

“We have sold out our 2013 capacity and are now booking orders well into 2014,” Peter Duprey, president and chief executive, said in a statement. “We expect 2014 production to reach or exceed our design capacity of 500 towers.”

Broadwind said sales in the first half of its fiscal year fell sharply after wind developers stopped ordering towers as they rushed to complete construction of wind farms in 2012 before a federal wind production tax credit expired.

But Congress renewed the tax credit in early January. The legislation allows the credits to be used for any project that starts construction this year. The renewal is prompting utilities to actively consider plans to build or buy wind power.

Xcel Energy Inc., which operates utilities in eight states including Wisconsin, recently announced plans to add 2,000 megawatts of wind to take advantage of falling prices and the tax credit.

“We’re seeing phenomenal pricing on wind,” Benjamin Fowkes, Xcel chairman and chief executive, said during an investor conference call last week. The company forecasts that its new investment in wind projects — through a combination of power purchase agreements and utility-owned projects — could save customers $800 million to $1 billion over the next 20 years, he said.

From Broadwind’s perspective, Duprey said, “We’re seeing a strong wind energy market over the next few years. The industry is seeing greater activity on the part of utilities to purchase wind farms outright or to provide power purchase agreements to enable a financing of wind projects.”

Broadwind said its sales in the second quarter were $51.4 million, down 9% from last year, as weak activity in the gearing business that supplies the natural gas and mining sectors was offset by strength in the towers and weldments business.

The company’s quarterly loss narrowed to $200,000, or 1 cent a share, from $4.2 million, or 30 cents, last year.

The $70 million in new orders for towers received in the third quarter is in addition to $17 million that was already in Broadwind’s backlog from the same customer, a U.S. wind turbine manufacturer.

Meanwhile, Broadwind said a $34 million order placed in 2010 by a different customer was canceled by mutual agreement.

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