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Friday, June 5, 2009

Proposed suspension of energy funds won't end plans to build Energy Composites Corp. plant

From an article by Nathaniel Shuda in the Marshfield News Herald:

WISCONSIN RAPIDS -- Plans to eliminate a state fund that helped a local manufacturer lay the groundwork for a wind energy component plant aren't expected to have an immediate impact on the company.

Members of the state Joint Finance Committee cut all $30 million Gov. Jim Doyle proposed for the Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund as part of an effort to wipe out the state's $6.6 billion biennial budget deficit. The budget still needs approval from both chambers of the Legislature and the governor before going into effect.

"In an optimum world, of course we'd like to see that (funding)," said Sam Fairchild, chief executive officer of Energy Composites Corp., which merged with Wisconsin Rapids-based Advanced Fiberglass Technologies in October. "But at the end of the day, I can understand the pressures the state is facing."

Advanced Fiberglass Technologies garnered a $1 million loan in September through the fund to assist in its move into the wind energy industry. The manufacturer plans to begin construction in July on a 350,000-square-foot plant that will produce blades for industrial wind turbines and create at least 400 jobs in Wisconsin Rapids.

The proposed two-year suspension of the Wisconsin Energy Independence Fund program would not affect the $7.3 million already awarded to 28 companies statewide, Doyle spokeswoman Carla Vigue said Thursday.

Although he cares about the 10-year, $150 million program, the governor would reluctantly approve the cut if it's included in the Legislature's final version of the budget, Vigue said.

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