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Co-owner, Robinson-Boyer Splicing, LLC
Contractor, Princeton, Missouri
A single wind turbine is made up of more than 8,000 components, not counting the additional equipment and materials—such as fiber optic cable—needed to connect to the grid and deliver power to consumers. Manufacturing those components creates thousands of jobs around the nation.
Word of mouth—and being in the right place at the right time—helped Stanley Robinson, managing partner of Robinson-Boyer Splicing, play a role in Missouri's emerging wind industry.
Robinson-Boyer started 35 years ago when copper cable began replacing open-wire and party-line phone service. Since then, the company has evolved along with the rest of the communications industry. Today it primarily uses fiber optic glass cable for phone service, cable television and Internet use, and employs five people.
A year ago, Robinson-Boyer got into the wind business. St. Louis-based Wind Capital Group developed Missouri's first wind power facility, Blue Grass Ridge, in rural Gentry County in the northwest corner of the state near Robinson-Boyer's headquarters. When it came time to link the wind facility's 28 turbines to the maintenance and operations building, Robinson-Boyer Splicing got the call.
"The wind industry people I presume got our name from phone companies or engineering firms," said Robinson, 62. "They discovered that we're a company that's been doing this for numerous years and they called and asked if we'd be interested, and we said sure."
The work was similar to the company's other splicing jobs. Robinson's crew traveled from turbine tower to turbine tower preparing the ends of the fiber optic cable that had been plowed in by construction crews. They opened up the cable ends, attaching connectors so the cable could be terminated and plugged into whatever equipment the facility operators eventually installed to monitor the turbines' energy output.
After completing the splicing work for Blue Grass Ridge last year, Robinson's company has been tapped to do similar work for another wind farm under construction near Conception Junction, Missouri, not far from the King City wind farm. Scheduled to go online in 2008, the Conception Wind Farm will have 24 turbines that collectively will produce 50 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 20,000 typical homes.
On a personal level, Robinson pays a premium on his home utility bill for renewable electricity credits that support renewable energy projects. But as a businessman, Robinson's main impetus for taking the wind project job was expanding his client pool.
"If wind is the future, that's what we're into," said Robinson. "We're just trying to make a buck, make a living. Whatever company needs our services, we'll certainly give them a price and try to do business with them."