Coal, Gas

Despite Lull, Power Industry Service Providers Expanding

Issue 7 and Volume 106.

Although some segments of the power industry are in a slump, a number of product and service providers to the power industry are expanding to meet current and future demand.

Mitsubishi Power Systems (MPS) is one of the largest and most visible examples of U.S. expansion. Established in June 2001 as the hub for Mitsubishi power businesses in the Western Hemisphere, MPS will oversee sales and service of Mitsubishi electrical power generating equipment and systems in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. With 30,000 MW of Mitsubishi-designed combustion and steam turbines already in the Western Hemisphere, there was already a significant requirement for service to the installed fleet.

The company’s Orlando service center is the newest turbine repair and component-manufacturing center in the Americas, with 24/7 technical support, remote turbine monitoring and diagnostics capabilities, rapid-deployment field response teams, and an OEM-certified training center that provides ongoing knowledge-transfer to customer O&M personnel.

“Demand for new capacity comes in waves, and it can be explosive. You have to be ready – you can’t gear-up on the fly,” says MPS executive vice president Hector O. Ponce. “If you’ve planned and scaled your operations for a down market, you’re betting against growth, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. At Mitsubishi, we’re counting on growth, and we want to be prepared to participate fully and compete effectively as energy markets rebound.”

Watlow Process Systems (WPS), a subsidiary of Watlow Electric Manufacturing Company, recently moved into a new facility located 35 miles west of St. Louis and two-thirds larger than its previous facility. WPS designs and fabricates electric process heaters and control panels, skid-mounted thermal processing systems, and skids for fuel gas conditioning equipment, fuel oil forwarding apparatus, fuel gas superheaters skids and SCRs.

“Our customers are demanding larger, more complex skids and systems,” says Joe Foreman, general manager. “We relocated to a larger facility to accommodate their requests and to be better equipped to handle the growing needs of the process industry.”

The new facility includes two 25-ton cranes for heavy lifting; significantly more floor space to increase capacity, support more projects and reduce lead times; and 40,000 additional square feet for future fabrication expansion.

Danish wind-turbine manufacturer Vestas Wind Systems plans to open its largest manufacturing plant in the world in Portland, Ore. next summer, where it will employ more than 1,000 people beginning by 2004. The plant will serve as the company’s U.S. headquarters.

The Portland Vestas facility plans to build about 300 wind turbines a year, most of which will supply the growing wind market in the northwestern U.S. The Portland plant will also position Vestas to enter the Canadian wind power market. The plant will be able to manufacture 500 to 700 MW of wind turbine capacity each year.

Vestas’ largest customer doing business in the Northwest is FPL Energy, whose Stateline Wind Project, straddling Eastern Oregon and Washington, is the largest wind project in the Western U.S. FPL has announced an agreement to buy 170 additional Vestas turbines. The company also has an option to purchase as many as 650 additional machines.

Osmonics, Inc. is another power industry related firm announcing expansion. In response to increased demand for reverse osmosis (RO) for a variety of power industry needs, Osmonics has announced it will build a dedicated state-of-the-art RO membrane and spiral-wound element factory.

The new factory will encompass a 60,000-square-foot expansion of the company’s existing Minnetonka, Minn. headquarters and manufacturing facility. The expansion, complete with new manufacturing equipment, is expected to be fully operational in 2004.

“In addition to meeting future market demand, the expansion will allow us to incorporate new, more efficient manufacturing processes and equipment to streamline how we produce these high-volume products, resulting in faster time-to-market for our customers and higher returns for Osmonics,” said Dean Spatz, Osmonics CEO.