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Photo Essay: Backstage At A Wind Tower Assembly Plant

Inside a pair of enormous buildings on the outskirts of Windsor—just across the river from Detroit—an army of workers is at this moment forging a cleaner energy future for Ontario and the midwestern United States.

They are the men and women of CS Wind Canada—a manufacturer of wind turbine towers and a leading employer in Ontario’s burgeoning clean-energy sector. Tower production began in December 2011, and more than 300 employees now spend their days here cutting, bending, welding, and grinding steel into enormous tube “sections,” some 33 meters long and up to 18 feet in diameter.

Each of the sections can weigh up to 55 tonnes.

Workers fabricate the sections in the plant’s cavernous “black tower” building using plasma cutters, 1,000 amp welding rigs, and massive hydraulic benders. From there, employees transfer them to “white tower,” where crews shot-blast, paint, pre-wire, package, and store the sections for customer pickup. Customers then truck the sections to the installation site, and bolt them together using cranes.

Completed CS Wind Canada towers will support Vestas, General Electric, and Siemens wind turbines—producing clean electricity for homes and businesses across Ontario and the midwestern United States.

Recently, CS Wind Canada granted Clean Energy Canada at Tides Canada access to its factory floors. We asked photographer Dax Melmer to document the people who work within its aircraft-hanger-sized buildings, and the products that take shape under their hands.

As the Province of Ontario kicks off public consultations on its Long-Term Energy Plan this month, it is worthwhile seeing, first-hand, those who benefit perhaps most directly from the Green Energy Act—the men and women who are donning coveralls and work boots to transition the province to a prosperous clean-energy future, one gleaming white tower at a time.

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