Sabre Ind. to build 2,000 transmission structures for $2B wind e - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Sabre Ind. to build 2,000 transmission structures for $2B wind energy project

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

A Texas company is bringing a Sioux City business on board its billion dollar wind energy project.  Sabre Industries struck a deal with Clean Line Energy to help build the Rock Island transmission line's infrastructure.

Sabre's president says the deal's worth $180 to $200 million.

The Clean Line company plans to invest $2 billion dollars on the project, one of five they've planned throughout the country.

A $250-million converter station will be built in O'Brien County, Iowa.

The electricity generated in South Dakota and Iowa will travel along 500-miles of transmission line, to Chicago and beyond.

The Rock Island project has been on the drawing board for more than four years.  Monday’s announcement is the first tangible example of how it could boost business in both the rural and metropolitan parts of the state.

"This project is great for Sioux City. It's great for Iowa. It's great for the Midwest and the rest of the country," said Sioux City's Mayor Pro-Tem, Keith Radig.

"If you can build infrastructure, you will get economic development," said Michael Skelly, Clean Line Energy's President.

Case in point: Sabre Industries. They built a second production facility, because they saw the potential for new customers.

"We knew about this project, yes, and we that there were a series of projects that are being built up here," said Peter Sandore, Sabre Industries CEO.

The multi-million dollar partnership means Sabre will supply around two-thousand steel structures to hold the direct current transmission line.

"All your steel structures and poles, arms that you see going down the interstate that's supporting a utility line. It's probably 120 million pounds of steel that will be used for this project," said Skelly.

They may have to add 100 more jobs. They already employ close to 500 people.

The project also promises to create other economic opportunities in the region, including 400 jobs around the converter station in O'Brien County, Iowa.

"The investment will facilitate the construction of literally billions and billions of dollars in new wind farms,” said Skelly.

Right now, Clean Line is waiting for approval from the state of Illinois. Iowa lawmakers are also considering legislation to make the regulatory process stricter, and keep 25% of the energy in the state.

Our project is designed to move wind energy to other markets,” Skelly said.

While the project has gotten a lot of positive feedback in Siouxland, landowners have concerns about transmission lines going through their farms.

"It's hard to come up with a project that absolutely 100% of the people think is a great idea. It's our job to listen to the people concerned about the project and do everything we can to make sure the project takes into account those considerations,” he said.

Depending on the pace of the permitting process, Sandore says Sabre will start producing structures between 2015 and 2016.

Iowa is the leader in renewable energy, but when it comes to wind we're not number one.

The state ranks third in current and sold wind capacity.  It's also third in the nation in the number of jobs created by wind energy.  However, it's first in wind generation as a percentage of total power output.

Officials say, much like traditional agricultural products wind in a resource that can be taken from farm to market.

“We understand that wealth is created by opening up to rural markets. We're moving our products. We're moving our services across the world. Really, wind is the next generation of that,” Debi Durham, the Iowa Economic Development Authority Director explained.

Durham says MidAmerican Energy's one-billion dollar investment in wind will boost the state even higher.

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