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Wind turbine firm aims to tap growing market

A Geneseo-based developer of wind turbines is moving full speed ahead with its product, which was introduced to the marketplace in late 2009. The goal is to hit $500 million in sales in five years, its top leaders say.

"The global market is absolutely enormous for this technology," said Mark Matthews, vice president of sales and marketing at WindTamer Corp.

The Livingston County firm began selling its turbines in November and has orders from small farms and single-family residences, Matthews said. There also has been interest from schools and commercial entities in this country and abroad.

The turbines cost $10,000 to $25,000 per unit, depending on the size and use. Government incentives, however, can cut the cost nearly in half, Matthews said.

WindTamer turbines include stand-alone and roof-mounted models for residential, commercial and industrial applications, along with versions for wind farms, recreational applications and backup power.

Matthews believes the company will grow with marketplace demand. While wind produces only about 2 percent of the total electricity supply, it is one of the largest sources of new power generation in the country, second to natural gas generation in terms of new capacity built each year since 2005, the American Wind Energy Association reports WindTamer employs roughly 15 people and works with local machining firms and installation companies.

The company has made several major changes in the past couple of months, including going  public. Its stock began trading Nov. 16 on the over-the-counter bulletin board. Shares of WindTamer (OTC BB:WNDT) were trading at midweek at 85 cents. The stock has traded since its launch in a range of 40 cents to $2.60.

Last week, WindTamer announced that Steven DiNunzio had been elected as an independent member of the board of directors. DiNunzio is chief financial officer of New York City-based Diamond Notch Asset Management LLC, an investment adviser with some $430 million under management.

Several new hires also have built up the management team: Late last year, William Schmitz was named company president, Adeeb Saba became vice president of operations and Matthews was hired. All are former executives of Ultralife Corp. in Newark, Wayne County.

Matthews, who spoke highly of Ultralife, said the opportunity to be part of WindTamer’s development was a draw.

"It’s the right product at the right time in the right market," he said.

WindTamer was founded in 2002 by CEO Gerald Brock, who at the time was looking for ways to improve the aerodynamics of electric cars. He discovered that by manipulating static pressure he could increase the speed of wind through a turbine, and he believes his technology is the best way to harness wind energy.

Brock was issued the first patent on his wind turbine technology in 2003. He assembled prototypes, created a business plan and raised more than $1.5 million in startup funding for the business, formerly Future Energy Solutions Inc.

Company officials said the WindTamer turbines produce more than double the power of traditional wind turbines for a faster return on investment. In addition to providing clean energy, the turbines are silent, safe for birds and only as tall as a flagpole, responding to criticisms raised by communities and wind power opponents.

WindTamer’s claims about efficiency, energy output and noise reduction were supported by a recent performance report from Kenneth Visser, professor in the department of mechanical and aeronautical engineering at Clarkson University in Potsdam, St. Lawrence County. The report is based on an analysis of field testing in the Geneseo area and numerical modeling at Clarkson.

Kevin Schulte is CEO of Sustainable Energy Developments Inc. in Ontario, Wayne County, a developer of decentralized wind energy projects throughout the northeastern United States.

The WindTamer competitor said he does not view WindTamer’s product as a viable alternative to the traditional wind turbine. He questioned the turbine’s generation capability and efficiency, was leery of rooftop turbines and felt the product should be tested by an independent evaluator such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado.

WindTamer’s Matthews said the company intends to continue enhancing its technological capabilities and expanding its customer base.

"The technology has proven itself," he said.

1/08/10 (c) 2010 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or e-mail [email protected].

 

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