WisBusiness: Japanese firm’s demonstration turbine could bring jobs to Wisconsin

By Greg Bump


In the midst of a 10-day trade mission to Japan and China, Gov. Jim Doyle said Hitachi is looking to install a demonstration wind turbine at Lakeshore Technical College that has the potential for creating jobs here.

During a conference call from Tokyo, Doyle said the Hitachi turbine has a unique design that both rotates and spirals and generates more power at a lower speed than traditional turbines.

“It produces less sound and goes slow enough that birds can see it so you don’t run into the bird problem,” Doyle said.

Doyle said whether the turbine ends up being manufactured on a large scale will depend on the merits of the Lakeshore model, but “if it does work … they’ve been clear with me they will be manufacturing in the United States and they like Wisconsin a lot.”

Doyle’s been in Japan since the trade mission started on Sunday. He plans to head to China tomorrow, and the delegation will visit will visit Harbin, Beijing and Shanghai. The governor will also meet with newly appointed U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman.

During his time in Japan, Doyle also addressed the Midwest U.S.-Japan annual conference, attended a dedication of a new piece of TomoTherapy radiation therapy equipment and met with Toshiba and Toyota executives.

Doyle said he had a “good discussion” with the Toyota executives and said the shuttered Janesville GM plant has been touted to the Japanese interests for its facilities and strong workforce. But he said it’s clear that Toyota is not looking to expand in the current economy.

“Right now Japanese companies aren’t looking to build any more than American companies are,” he said.

Doyle said that Toyota is interested in investing in alternative energy and said Johnson Controls, a leader in battery technology, would be a natural partner for the car manufacturer.

Doyle was optimistic that the trade mission will benefit Wisconsin’s economy despite the worldwide recession that has hit Asia as it has the United States.

“I understand this is not a time worldwide where people are walking around making major capital investments,” Doyle said.

But he said that legislation he signed in the past several months provide economic incentives that Wisconsin didn’t have before.

“People are seeing some of the strengths in this, and we have some things really to offer,” he said.

“We have some things to offer to people that we didn’t have in the past.”