Wind project still cited years after it failed to materialize
A few years ago, Vice President Joe Biden called a wind turbine facility in Saginaw one of the top "100 Recovery Act Projects that are Changing America."
In 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded Merrill Technologies Group a $22 million advanced energy manufacturing tax credit that then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office said was used to buy advanced manufacturing equipment needed to create wind turbine components in a facility in Saginaw. The Recovery Act also gave Merrill Technologies another $3 million.
The former governor trumpeted the facility as the future of Michigan's economy that would help create 89,918 clean energy jobs.
The facility produced one wind turbine that triggered news reports around the country.
The facility "never got started," said Michael Shore, spokesman for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., in an email he sent in May in response to questions about the project.
Yet, that hasn't stopped wind power advocates around the country from touting the project as a success.
The American Wind Energy Association, a national trade association based in Washington, D.C., still cited the Saginaw facility in its 2014 update on wind manufacturing in the state.
Saginaw Future Inc., which is a public-private alliance that includes the city of Saginaw and 15 local municipalities, cited the wind turbine facility on its website, stating that the expectation is the facility "will become a major supplier for Michigan-made wind turbines … "
Andrea Fisher, a spokeswoman for Merrill Technologies, said the company was eligible for, but did not receive, the $22 million advanced energy manufacturing tax credit from the Recovery Act.
Merrill did receive $3 million from the Recovery Act, which the company matched with its own $3 million. That equipment is not being used for building parts for wind turbines but is being used for other manufacturing purposes, Fisher said.
In a presentation in May at the World Energy Innovation Forum, former Gov. Granholm included the Saginaw facility project as contributing to the inaccurate 89,000 clean energy jobs in Michigan figure.
"It does not surprise me that wind power proponents point to this as a 'success story,' " said James Taylor, senior fellow for environmental policy with the Heartland Institute. "The reason being is wind subsidies across the board have been wasteful boondoggles that produce little wind power, fewer jobs, but tremendous economic hardship. Wind power so-called 'jobs created' are merely jobs purloined from conventional energy companies and come at the expense of jobs throughout the entire economy."
Lindsay North of American Wind Energy Association and Tom Miller, spokesman for Saginaw Future, did not respond to requests for comment.
(Editor's note: Merrill Technologies officials responded after this story originally was posted. The company's comments are included above.)