SIOUX CITY | A high-voltage transmission line slated to export wind power generated in Northwest Iowa will deliver up to $200 million in business for the Sabre Industries plant in Sioux City.
Clean Line Energy Partners has agreed to buy an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 poles, from Sabre, or about four to five poles per mile, for the 500-mile Rock Island Clean Line that is scheduled to cross Iowa and Illinois, transporting wind-generated electricity to Chicago and other points east.
At a Feb. 17 news conference at the Sabre plant, Clean Line President and Sabre President and CEO Peter Sandore formally signed a deal that designates Sabre as the "preferred supplier of transmission structures" for the $2 billion transmission line.
"We really fortunate there is a facility here that can make the towers that we need and get them at an economical cost out to the field where we will erect them," Skelly told more than 50 local officials who gathered in Sabre's newly-opened office building in the Southbridge Business Park.
Sandore said the Clean Line order will produce a demand for 100 to 150 million pounds of raw steel, as well as new jobs at the Sioux City plant. The CEO said the company will use as many local suppliers as possible for the venture.
The Rock Island line is designed to transfer 3,500 megawatts of electricity -- or the equivalent of 1.4 million homes per year -- from wind farms in northwest Iowa and neighboring states a to power-hungry customers in metro Chicago and other points east by 2017.
Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham told the audience the Sabre-Clean Line partnership is an "opportunity for Iowa to capitalize on the clean energy economy and deliver a new cash crop to market."
The state has the potential to produce 44 times more times wind energy than it can use, Durham noted.
Alvardo, Texas-based Sabre selected Sioux City over several other cities for an expansion to to help meet the company's growing orders for steel support structures for electrical transmission lines.
A year ago, Sabre opened its 192,000-square-foot factory in Sioux City's Southbridge Business Park. The $18 million project was the first phase of a multi-year expansion that will more than double local employment and put all of the company's Sioux City operations under one roof.
Overall, Sabre now has about 500 employees in Sioux City, which includes 269 at the Southbridge complex, including welders, fabricators, shipping clerks and administrators. The remaining workers are at three older plants that produce towers for the communications industry.
Two additional production bays are currently under construction at the Southbridge campus, located just south of Sioux Gateway Airport. Sandore said the company expects to complete that project by this fall, allowing the remaining Sioux City operations to relocate to Southbridge
Clean Line Energy, a privately owned Houston-based company, has estimated the Rock Island line would generate $7 billion in new investments, and create more than 500 permanent jobs in the region.
An estimated 5,000 construction jobs also would be created.
Construction is expected to begin in 2015, but Clean Line must first get the final go-ahead from utility regulators in Iowa and Illinois. Clean Line Energy, a privately owned Houston-based company, has estimated the Rock Island line would generate $7 billion in new investments, and create more than 500 permanent jobs in the region.