Siemens Canada to export 36 wind blades to Wales

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Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli visited Tillsonburg Monday afternoon to announce Siemens Canada will be exporting 36 wind turbine blades to the United Kingdom.

"This region has demonstrated its grit, determination, resilience in the face of changing economic times, moving from tobacco jobs to turbine jobs in the space of just a few short years," said Chiarelli, speaking to gathered dignitaries, guests and employees at Siemens' blade manufacturing facility – the largest employer in Tillsonburg.

"Siemens has been an important part of this transition. When the company saw the many benefits that Tillsonburg had to offer, from its skilled and motivated workforce to the great infrastructure of transporting the very large manufacturing blades, it chose this community for its first Canadian manufacturing plant for turbine components. And it's been a rewarding relationship for the community and the company ever since – with a very strong future ahead of them as well."

The 253,000-square foot Tillsonburg facility, situated on 40 acres of land, was established in 2010. Tillsonburg's first blade shipped in 2013, one of 372 for the South Kent wind farm. In March 2013 the facility had 140 employees. They ramped up to 200 by the summer of 2013, and had as many as 405 in January 2015 when the 1,000th blade shipped. Today, the facility employs approximately 300 people, many of them with five years experience at the plant.

Tillsonburg has become an active participant in Siemens' global supply chain, said Chiarelli.

"And that's one of the reasons we're here today, to celebrate that. Over the years of its operation, Siemens has built over 1,800 blades (1,833) for companies in Sweden and Quebec, along with a strong list of firms right here in Ontario. And today we're proud to recognize that Siemens has secured a new export agreement in the United Kingdom, shipping 36 new blades to Wales and securing the 300 well-paying jobs right here in Tillsonburg.

"As a result, Siemens and Tillsonburg will continue to grow as strong contributors in Ontario's commitment to an affordable, clean, reliable energy system. And it continues to solidify Oxford County's position as the leading jurisdiction in Ontario with a vision for clean power, which is marked with the recent passing of a resolution at the County and the City of Woodstock to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy 2050.

"Municipalities and counties across Ontario are learning from the example you are setting here in Oxford, and I want to congratulate the municipal leaders in what they've been able to achieve in that regard."

Ontario ranks first in Canada for installed wind capacity, with wind energy providing enough electricity to power approximately 1.2 million homes each year, and more is on the way, said Chiarelli, noting the results of the first competitive large renewable procurement.

"Of the 16 renewable contracts offered to developers across the province, five were for wind. And all five were at a price lower than the average cost of generation in Ontario. Isn't that spectacular? Whoever would have anticipated that three or four or five years ago when everybody was saying the price of wind is out of sight? The fact is, it's less than some other types of generation we have in the system right now."

It proves that wind energy is now on a level playing field, he said.

"The average price for wind came in at about 8.5 cents per kilowatt/hours... spectacular.

"What's more, just last week we announced that Ontario will be moving ahead with a second round of competitive large renewable procurement. This competitive process will continue to drive prices down for consumers. We expect the recently announced projects will actually remove $3.3 billion in system costs from original estimates. When we did our long-term energy plan in 2013, we had some projections of the generation requirements and how much that will cost, and how it will impact the rates. Well, we are coming in – thanks to renewables and thanks to wind – at $3.3 billion less than the projected cost, which is amazing and takes a lot of pressure off prices. It's saving the average family about $25 a year on their monthly bill."

"Making export of Canadian-made blades today is a significant occasion because, for me, it brings to fruition a well-laid plan and a commitment that Siemens has had since we first decided to invest in this facility," said David Hickey, Siemens Canada Vice-President, Wind Power and Renewables,

"That is to get closer to our Canadian customers, which we have done, to efficiently serve the ever-expanding Ontario market, which we have done, and to be a part of Siemens' global supply chain, which we have done with this order.

"Global demand driving export opportunities like this," said Hickey, "along with a strong domestic market, are key factors in creating and sustaining green manufacturing jobs here in Canada and Ontario. And I'm confident that from here in Tillsonburg we will continue to provide the best possible product to customers at home and abroad."

Quick Facts

- Wind is expected to account for 15 per cent of Ontario's installed capacity by 2025.

- Ontario undertook North America's single biggest climate action when it permanently closed all of its coal-fired power plants.

- In May 2015, Ontario became the first province in Canada to set a mid-term greenhouse gas pollution reduction target of 37 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.

- Ontario announced a new $325 million Green Investment Fund in its 2015 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review. 

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