Wind turbine factory to move into former Wyre Wynd building in Jewett City

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Mon., Oct. 7, 2013
The Change Wind Corporation, which manufactures small-scale wind energy turbines, is planning to occupy nearly 100,000 square feet of the long-vacant Wyre Wynd building in Jewett City. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

The Oct. 2 sale of the former Wyre Wynd building at 77 Anthony St. in Jewett City has cleared the way for a cutting-edge alternative energy company to occupy part of the plant. Change Wind Corp., currently headquartered in Port Chester, N.Y., intends to open a wind turbine manufacturing facility in the structure, initially employing a projected 25 to 30 workers.

Change Wind Chief Executive Officer Jim Bardia said that the structure was actually purchased by Notus Eurus, LLC, a real estate investment firm of which he serves as managing member. The firm will serve as landlord for the 200,000-square-foot structure, with plans to lease about half the space to other small businesses.

Change Wind itself will lease just under half of the floor space, said Bardia. Final plans for its move to Jewett City, including an actual opening date, are contingent on an incentive package from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, according to Bardia. “All of that can actually start in earnest now that we have access to the property,” he said. This will be the wind turbine company’s sole manufacturing location, he said.

Bardia said that he plans to begin recruiting local workers for Change Wind once a human resources officer is hired. Employment levels will depend on orders for the product, he said, but “if our forecast is correct” the workforce could grow to 50 to 80 workers in the second year and to 100 jobs in the third year.

The factory complex includes eight interconnected buildings, the oldest of which dates to the 1894 Aspinook textile mill. The complex has remained empty since Wyre Wynd closed up shop about three years ago. The property was listed on the website of its realtor, Pequot Commercial, at an asking price of $695,000, but realtor Steve Becker, who handled the sale, said that the actual sale price was $550,000. He said that the site included 17 acres, some of which has recently undergone an environmental clean-up project under the supervision of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Change Wind’s aluminum-body turbine differs markedly from the wind turbine familiar to most people, designed to imitate a child’s pinwheel. “Those big machines make one million kilowatts of power” but can reach heights up to 450 feet, said Bardia. Because the blades must face into the prevailing wind, the structure must be mechanically swiveled into position to generate power.

His company’s helical-wing design, which resembles an eggbeater, allows for energy production in turbulent wind from any direction and is just 30 to 42 feet high. While its energy output is drastically lower, at 36 kilowatts, its smaller size makes it more versatile, Bardia said. A small business with open acreage, such as a farm or an auto dealership, could realize an annual savings of $10,000 to $13,000 on its energy bill, he said. In addition, the smaller turbines can be used in conjunction with the large traditional turbines to take advantage of less powerful breezes. “It actually increases the output of wind farms,” he said.

With a background in automobile manufacturing and racing, Bardia said his intent was “to make a machine that would be profitable for the consumer without a government subsidy or grant.”

Notus Eurus will continue to lease the surplus floor space to other businesses “ideally over the first couple of years while [Change Wind is] growing into the space,” said Bardia.

First Selectman Philip Anthony said he welcomed the news of the structure’s purchase, both for the potential jobs and for the chance to have the industrial site back on the tax rolls. “A dead industry site is coming back to life. I’m very excited on behalf of the town. Industry is back,” he said.

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