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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, September 20, 2007, Pages 1 & 8

One industry coming . . .
Heartland Bioenergy Solutions beginning research stage

Announcement of a new industry beginning operations in Mount Ayr was made this week.

Heartland Energy Solutions will commence research and development operations in its temporary facilities at 1010 South Cleveland Street in Mount Ayr's Industrial Park in space leased in the former cap factory building.

The new firm will design, assemble and manufacture mid-sized wind turbines and other energy products including solar and hydrogen equipment.

Make the announcement of the opening was Paul RAMSEY, Newport Beach, CA, one of the founders of the new firm.

Todd BLANTON, a South Carolina native and nationally known propulsion engineer, will head the design and engineering division of the firm. BLANTON is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Nuclear Engineering Program in 1987. His experience during the past 15 years included the design and construction of nuclear submarines at the Newport News shipyards in Virginia and an assignment with the Iowa Energy Center at Iowa State University in the development of photovoltaic solar systems.

Future plans call for the possible construction of a new plant facility for a permanent home for the company in Mount Ayr, RAMSEY said.

The development of the firm has been under study and discussion for several months.

A group of seven people is behind the development of the firm and the company has several people working for the startup.

One of the needs in the future for the facility may be the widening of roads to the industrial park to accommodate the long loads when shipping the wind turbines.

[Page 8] City and county officials have been looking into how the road widening project can be accomplished.

. . . while another planning to close.

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, November 06, 2008, Pages 1 & 14

Blade manufacturing area being added to wind plant

Work is progressing on the new 9,000 square foot building next to the exiting 30,000 square foot building which will serve as the blade factory for the Heartland Energy Solutions operations in the industrial park in Mount Ayr.

When the facility is up and running, Heartland Energy Solutions will probably be the only U.S. based turbine manufacturer in its power class to manufacture it's own blades, according to Dr. Kyle WETZEL of Wetzel Engineering in Lawrence, KS.

Dr. WETZEL, one of the most prominent wind engineers in the United States, was in Mount Ayr in mid-August. he has collaborated with Dr. Michael SELIG, professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois, and Heartland's Todd BLANTON and Larry PRESTON to design the blade.

Heartland's design for its Freedom 100 will be in prototype in 2009. The turbine had been designed to operate in low to moderate wind speeds.

"This is the wind speed that is most common in the United [page 14] States," said BLANTON, vice-president of research and development for the Mount Ayr-based energy company.

According to BLANTON, it is a very necessary step to manufacture the company's own blade.

"Heartland's venders are primarily U.S.-based companies and have out-performed expectations to bring a very unique turbine to the market," said Larry PRESTON, vice-president of engineering. "Our vendors have worked hand to hand with our engineering team and we have had much help from the aerospace control, electrical and metallurgy sectors."

Both BLANTON and PRESTON said they would like to get Iowa State University involved with their efforts.

"It's a great opportunity for Heartland to have such talent in such close proximity," BLANTON said. "In preliminary discussions with IUS's engineering department heads there seems to be a dynamic synergy between both organizations."

Heartland's decision to manufacture its own blades has meant more preparation time before manufacturing gets underway and was not an easy decision, but was determined to be a necessary step to achieve the company's goals, said Charles SHARP, CEO of the company.

The continued support of the community of Mount Ayr, Ringgold County Development Corporation and state agencies has been very helpful, he noted.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2012

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, June 18, 2009, Pages 1 & 9

Building mold for blade milestone for Heartland

A big step in the process to make blades for wind generators at the Heartland Energy Solutions, Inc. plant in Mount Ayr took place last week when the first of the molds for the blades was constructed.

A crew of plant employees and youth from the area put together the fiberglass mold which will be used when making the unique blade for the Freedom series of wind generators that the plant here is developing.

Working on getting the process in place for getting the first of the unique blades manufactured for the generators, which are designed to work at windspeeds as low as six miles per hour instead of the higher speeds needed for the bigger generators is kind of like getting ready for a birth. Things don't just happen overnight.

Dr. Kyle K. WETZEL, who designed the blade for the company, was on hand to help supervise the mold building effort.

On Wednesday, Jun 10, the first eight layers of fiberglass was made for the mold. After placing some heating elements on the first layers, eight more layers were added on Friday, June 12.

The crew had practiced the effort on Monday, June 8, before actually making the mold.

Now that one mold is completed, work is being done to make the mold for the other side of the blade, said Larry PRESTON, who talked about the blade manufacturing process.

Once production begins, the two halves of the blade will be stuck together with an adhesive to make the completed blade.

The process of making the fiberglass mold included laying down sheets of fiberglass and bathing them in resin that will bind the pieces together once cured. Two types of resin were being pumped together in pumps and old potato salad buckets were used to make the resin transfer to the workers.

The workers donned rubber gloves and plastic sleeves to keep them out of the resin.

Pre-cut pieces of fiberglass were laid in place over a wooden base held up by a strong metal frame and the resin poured over them. The first layer was smoothed out by hand, sort of like the fingerpainting skills of kindergarten.

Later layers were rolled down with rollers to make sure there were no air spaces inthe growing layers. Kind of resin and roll to coin a phrase.

Once the molds are completed, actual manufacture of blades can begin.

The blade manufacturing process will use an Vaccum Assist Resin Transfer Mode (VARTUM) where the blade material is drawn into the mold, where it sets up.

The process will be used to make both halves of the blade, which will then be sealed together with an epoxy to make the complete blade.

It is expected that the blade process will take about an hour in the beginning, but the engineers hope to have that time cut down to 15 minutes when production gets up to speed.

Once the blade is put together, it will move to a finishing area where the end of the blade will be trimmed and holes bored in it for the assembly which will hold it to the generator equipment.

The blade will be touched up and any surface issues fixed and then it will go to a coatings booth, where the final finish will be put on the blade.

Once the second mold is completed and the first blade constructed, it will be cut apart to check for quality control.

The next two blades will be sent away for certification of the construction quality.

The next three blades will then be used to construct the prototype generator which will be installed at the plant in the manufacturing [Page 9] site in the industrial park in Mount Ayr.

The company officials are not making any public projections on when the prototype generator will be up and in place, giving the unforeseen challenges that can arise along the way toward getting the first gnerator built.

Making the step of having the first mold completed is a major one, but there will be many more firsts before blades are rolling off the line and generators are being installed from the plant.

Staff members from the plant helping make the mold included Todd BLANTON, Larry PRESTON, Gary HARTSOOK, Mike COOPER, Ed CORUM, Donnie GILLESPIE, Shannon HARTMAN, D. J. MILLER, Jan SHERVHEIM, Delbert STEVENS and John WERNER.

Students and volunteers helping with the mold project included Korey BEAMAN, Hannah BLANTON, Ruth BLANTON, Gerald CLARK, Benny DAVIS, Jordan KLEJCH, Shannon FOZ, Charmain JOHNSON, Michael KELLER, Brandon O'NEIL, Weston PIERSCHBACHER, Wendall RAY, Devin RICHARDS, Anne SKINNER, Jessica SKINNER, Jim SKINNER, Norman SKINNER, Luria STAATS, Sheldon TRIGGS, Ethan WAMBOLD and Tiffany WIMER.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, December of 2012

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, November 19, 2009

Prototype progress being made on Heartland Energy turbine

There have been setbacks of one sort or another, but progress is being made and it is now projected that the prototype for the first generation of wind turbines for Heartland Energy Systems will be built by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

That was the word that Todd BLANTON and Larry PRESTON brought to the Mount Ayr city council Monday night in a report on progress of the start-up energy firm.

"It's been a long and arduous process and not everyone understands some of the obstacles we have run into, but we are making real progress," BLANTON told the council.

The first setback came after the blade for the generator was assigned last year and the company went to manufacturers to get the blade made.

As the firm went from manufacturer to manufacturer they were told that the firm was unknown or the blade was too small for maufacturing facilities. Others wanted huge startup fees up front.

Finally the firm decided that it needed to manufacture its own blades because the blade is such a radical departure from the design of other blades, BLANTON said.

The firm is finishing up the second blade mold now and hopes to have it completed before Thanksgiving.

Once the mold is complete, prototype blades will begin to be constructed and sent off for testing.

Now that the blade plant has been developed, it may be possible to built blades for other firms as well, which would create some cash flow. Right now the plant will be able to turn out 2 1/2 blades a day but BLANTON says the firm may have to build a second plant to keep up with the turbine assembly once production is fully underway.

"We will be able to assemble the turbines faster than our capacity to make blades," BLANTON said.

BLANTON said that their system will be able to turn out the fastest blade per mold cycle of any plant.

"Having much less capital expenditure up front by building our own plant will make us very competitive in the market place," BLANTON said. "We don't have huge debt to service in this economic down turn."

Consultants have told Heartland Energy Solutions that they have a state of the art facility that will put out some of the highest quality blades in the world, BLANTON said.

And a review of the innovations that have been developed in the blade manufacturing facility alone had a consulting engineer saying that there were a least 10 sideline businesses tha could be started from bland manufacturing concepts that have been developed for the facility here.

A firm from Italy is being brought in to help design a robotic painting system for the blades and using the robotic systems for some of the finishing steps will do away with some of the dirtier jobs while speeding up production, meaning more jobs overall will be available.

"You never know where the next hurdle may be," he said. The firm lost 90 days when they had some delamination problems with test panels that they had to try to figure out.

It turned out that a truck driver had stopped the truck to take a nap and the resin that was being brought to the plant froze. When the resin was used, it did not work as it was supposed to because it had been damaged by temperature.

"When we finally got that figured out, we were glad to to know it wasn't a problem with the process, but we lost 90 days in trying to trace everything back to figure out what had happened," BLANTON said.

The firm currently has 15 full-time employees and four or five who are part-time employees and hopes to begin another phase of hiring after the first of the year.

"We don't see any problem in reaching our original goal of 106 employees and may need as many as 150 when we are in full production," BLANTON said.

The plant hasn't been sitting idle as machinery to handle the mold manufacturing process has been designed and built and processes for assembling the wind turbines developed and put in place.

The firm plans for 2010 to be a limited production year to introduce the first models at a "rational rate" to make sure the brand-new technology works as expected.

The design of the new turbine system is to create a 100 kilowatt generation platform that can complete [compete?] with 500 to 600 kilowatt platforms in generation.

"We will be providing a high efficiency platform at one third the price of some of our competitors," BLANTON said.

The turbine will have a patented pitching system that is very compact and funcitonal, providing the same abilities of systems four times the size. This will help keep down the weight of the turbine on the tower, BLANTON said.

The firm is in the process of finding vendors to produce many of the parts for the turbine such as bearings, transmissions and the like and the first manufacturing will depend in part on when these parts are ready from suppliers. Over 100 vendors are involved with the items needed for the turbines.

According to what the vendors say, all the parts should be available so that the prototype turbine is [Page 14] constructed by March 11.

The deadline and design phase had awakened interest in the turbines from a number of firms. "Sandin Labs is wanting to do research in our plans," BLANTON noted as one example.

Once all the parts for the turbine itself are received, the turbine will have to be run on the test stand which has been developed with cycle changes, speed changes and the like to make sure it holds up to the wind curves designed to test the instrument.

"We have to make sure the turbine can withstand 50-year wind gusts, ice and the like and simulate the blade turning and pitching sytem working," BLANTON said.

He said one of the recent projects has been building the test stand, which the crews built for $250,000 instead of the $2 million or more a purchased one would have cost.

The towers, then will hold up the turbines and blades, are now in design and it is hoped that the first tower for the prototype turbine will be put up in Mount Ayr sometime after Christmas.

"We will be putting up the tower and taking it down several times to help train installation crews and to get feedback from crane operators on the best way to proceed with installation," BLANTON said.

BLANTON noted that the firm hopes to be able to use fiberglass towers for the turbines.

"We appreciate the patience people have had with our slower than hoped for start, but we have been accomplishing a lot of things and have built a revolutionary facility here," BLANTON said.

While work is done to get the first designs into production, research and development continues on new models to add additional improvements and efficiencies, BLANTON said. "Research and development is a continuing process," he said.

Working on the project has been the opportunity of a lifetime, BLANTON says. In many engineering positions, one works on designing one aspect of a project.

Here the challenge has been to get the whole project designed and BLANTOn and PRESTON have worked long hours coming up with innovative solutions for developing the turbines as well as the plant to do the manufacturing in.

BLANTON was very complimentary of the employees the firm has and their willingness to learn new skills and to be cross-trained so they understand all the processes of the plant.

"We are not some fly-by-nighters," BLANTON said. "We have some of the best people in the wind energy business helping us with the project because they are excited about some of the breakthroughs we are coming up with."

In terms of marketing the turbines once they start coming off the assembly line, BLANTON says there are a number of markets.

Schools and universities are looking at the turbines for providing electricity for their facilities. Factories are another market for the systems.

Because the turbines will run at lower windspeeds than other turbines and will be much more economical, there are a number of markets for the turbines.

Instead of wind farms like the groupings of the large generators are called, Heartland Energy Solutions is looking to produce turbines for wind "gardens."

The profitability of the turbines depends on how much of the time the wind actually turns the blades as well as the generation compared to the costs.

"Our turbines should provide better economics in both areas," BLANTON said.

One project that is being discussed is the Northern Corridor project, a rail line which runs 150 miles in Iowa. Because the turbines have a 90 foot diameter footprint they would fit in the railroad right of way and supply energy for ethanol and biodiesel plants which are being built along the rail line.

"It would be a system of using wind to help make other forms of renewable energy," BLANTON noted.

Council member Jim FEEBACK asked BLANTON when the city should begin talks if it wanted to get into the wind energy business.

BLANTON said that now was the time and he suggested that council members talk with company CEO Charles SHARP if they are interested in exploring the possibilities.

May SOLLIDAY thanked the engineers for the presentation on the progress of the plant and said he wanted the council to hear what was going on so they could help answer naysayers in the community.

SOLLIDAY also taped the presentation so he could share it with people who had questioned him about the progress of the plant.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, 2009

  Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 20, 2012

Heartland erects first turbine tower

The second section of the new Heartland wind turbine tower is lifted into place at a site just west of Winterset.

Heartland Energy Solutions reached a milestone this week with the installation of its first commercial wind turbine. Purchased by BB&T Feed and Grain near Winterset, the tower has been erected at the junction of Highways 169 and 92 just west of Winterset. Dale KEVER, Heartland vice president of development, estimated the total cost of the project between $600,000 and $650,000. The owners purchased the turbine to offset their electricity costs.

According to KEVER, this turbine promises to be 20-30 percent more efficient than similar turbines currently in production. The increased efficiency comes from a total re-design of the blade, generator, inverter and power train.

Researchers from Iowa State University plan to measure and analyze the actual output of the generator.

KEVER said this installation marks the fruition of a project begun in 2008.

Another similar turbine is scheduled to be erected at the Ramsey Farms site east of Mount Ayr sometime in the first quarter of next year.

He said Heartland has received interest from other businesses and individuals as well as utility companies interested in the new technology.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, December of 2012; updated March 2013

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, February 06, 2014
Page One

Heartland installation marks milestone

A new wind turbine and blades designed and manufactured by Heartland Energy Solutions of Mount Ayr were installed Friday, January 31 at BB and P Feed and Grain in Winterset near the intersection of Highway 92 and Highway 169. The completed turbine project is a milestone for the local company that began operation in April 2007. A letter from Heartland CEA Charles Sharp thanking Mount Ayr for its support appears on page 3.

~ ~ ~ ~

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
Heartland Energy thanks the community
, Page 3

Thank you, Mount Ayr.

"Nothing can stop Heartland."

In April 2013, we had a fire in the blade plant, now called the Composite Plant. This would have put most companies on its heels, but the investors, management team and employees of Heartland dove in, cleaned up, rebuilt and assembled the first turbine known as "Our Little Girl". The first installment is located at BB and P Feed and Grain in Winterset.

During the week of January 26, the Heartland team was bound and determined to put the first turbine in the air. The week began with minus five degree weather, an ice storm, and a snow storm, but then on Friday, January 31 (the day of the planned crane lift) the temperature rose to 30 degrees. The snow storm was not due until late that night, and the winds had slowed down to less than 10 miles
per hour. That's all we needed to hear. "We are going"
called Robert Galloway, "Our Little Girl is going up today!"

Bob Galloway, Larry Preston, Gary Hartsook and every Heartland employee planned all week by loading over 29,000 pounds of equipment onto trucks, making sure all the tools were properly packed and ready to go. They even planned a command center filled with hot food, beverages and homemade sticky buns to keep the installation crew going in the cold weather.

Shipments to the site were handled by local Mount Ayr Transportation Company, headed by Eric Brown and Roger McGahuey. Company signage on the Nacelle was handled by Podium, In. Other local companies including Southwest Builder Supply, Farm and Home and NAPA were on call for any last minute supplies necessary. Henning Construction (based out of Des Moines) organized the cranes and assisted in the installation.

Dale Kever, Heartland's Vice President of Business Development, said," The community trust and patience in Heartland showed during the week. The city council, the Ringgold County Development group, the Mount Ayr Chamber of Commerce, the local REC and the people of Mount Ayr all supported us."

The investors, management team, and all employees would like to thank Mount Ayr.

Charles Sharp, CEO
Heartland Energy Solutions
Mount Ayr

Heartland Engery Solutions
808 S. Cleveland Street, Mount Ayr IA
Charles Sharp - CEO
Larry Preston - Vice-President of Engineering

Heartland Energy Solutions began their operations in 2008. The firm manufactures 100kW turbines and blades. Presently [2014] there are 16 people employed.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, February of 2014; updated February of 2015
Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 08, 2015, Page 1

Heartland wind turbine ready for market
Company expects strong sales will bring jobs to Ringgold County

After eight years and $9 million spent on research and development, Heartland Engery Solutions of Mount Ayr is ready to bring their Freedom 100 wind turbine to the market.

The company held an open house at the sight (sic) of their prototype turbine located in Winterset last Thursday, where over 400 people got a first hand view of the product.

The company is also aggressively marketing the turbine to potential customers. In fact, said Charles Sharp, CEO/President of Heartland, they already have purchase orders for up to five of the systems. If all those purchase orders are approved, Sharp said additional hiring at the company would need to take place right away.

If sales go as projected, up to 100 employees could be working at the Mount Ayr manufacturing facilities when at full production, according to Sharp.

Currently, Heartland has started work on their second turbine. It currently takes 4-6 months to build a unit, but when production ramps up that time will drop significantly.

"We've gone from concept, to design, to fabrication, to prototype, to operation. That is where we are now," said Sharp.

The turbine being produced at Heartland is a 100 kilowatt unit, a size which would cater to small local utility companies, small corporate users or high usage corporate farming operations. The system is designed to operate in lower wind speeds.

"The 100 kilowatt is the right size," said Sharp. "It fits the markets we have identified. Now, we must build customer confidence in our new technologies. It is a new era of high performance wind turbine."

Heartland also builds its own blades to go with the turbine, the only turbine manufacturer in the United States to make its own blades.

The blades manufactured by Heartland have been tested to last over 32 years, far exceeding any competitor currently in the market.

"Our challenge now is to suppor the production at the plant by increasing sales," said Sharp.

The average cost for a system with the tower is approximately $550,000, according to Sharp. There also are other "soft" costs such as installation, permits, core samples and the cement foundation.

Heartland has developed a lease program to help customers finance their purchase.

The program provides for 10 years of lease payments, offset by the amount of turbine power production. After 10 years the ownership would transfer to the leasee who then would get ten years or more of power production with no lease payments.

The manufacturing of the turbine and the blades takes place in Heartland's two buildings containing 39,000 square feet on an eight acre parcel near Mount Ayr Airport. Sharp said the company also owns land next to their current location and can easily expand their operation. The current facilities would support the manufacturing of 35-40 turbines.

The operations at the Mount Ayr facility include a composite plant which consists of blade manufacturing, Nacelle (cover) manufacturing and constructing the nose cone. The second part of the operations is the production of the turbine itself.

If things progress as anticipated and significant hiring takes place, Sharp is confident there are worker resources available to them. "We will need welders, machinists and mechanics," said Sharp. "Iowa has great workers we aren't worried about finding the necessary workforce."

Heartland Energy Solutions was founded by Mount Ayr icon Paul Ramsey. Still involved with the company are Paul's sons Patrick Ramsey, Director of Strategic Planning and Alliances and M. Paul Ramsey, head of Market Research.

For more information on Heartland Engery Solutions go to www. heartlandenergysolutions.com

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015


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