Renewable energy 'coordinator' eyes GM plant

March 8, 2011

D'Arcinoff Group, which calls itself a manufacturing coordinator, has its eye on the General Motors stamping plant west of downtown Indianapolis.

The Washington, D.C., firm's principal, Michael Darcy, is trying to execute a grand plan to use defunct automotive plants for the production of wind turbines. He first brought his plan to Indiana in 2009 with the intent of using the former Metaldyne plant in New Castle, pending a loan guarantee from the Export-Import Bank.

Darcy now says he doesn't need government backing to execute his plan, and he hopes it will include the former Borg-Warner auto parts plant in Muncie and the GM metal-stamping plant in Indianapolis. He says he's looking to take such huge amounts of industrial space because he wants to produce 2,000 turbines a year.

"We’re sort of that coordinating entity in the middle," Darcy said Tuesday morning. "My firm does not actually manufacture. We have manufacturing partners."

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard announced late last month that a task force would study possible uses for the stamping plant, which GM plans to close by the end of June.

In addition to bringing together various components manufacturers, D'Arcinoff Group promises to create demand for the product.

Darcy says his company will lease a large site in a remote U.S. location, where Los Angeles-based Rentech Inc., a maker of synthetic biofuels, can use wind power to make jet fuel.

D'Arcinoff Group has yet to fill any space in Indiana, but last year it gained support from United Auto Workers. Maurice Davison, UAW's director in Indiana and Kentucky, told the audience at a manufacturing summit Monday at Ivy Tech's North Meridian Street campus that a wind-turbine maker could bring nearly 15,000 jobs to Indiana. He later said he expected an announcement soon from D'Arcinoff Group.

"Hopefully in two weeks, I’ll be able to announce a specific, fully funded program," Darcy said.

City economic development officials, who are working closely with Motors Liquidation Co., haven't heard anything about Darcy's plans in about 18 months, said Michael Young, project director at Develop Indy.

"It definitely sounds great, but some intense levels of due diligence would be necessary before we provide any type of city support," Young said. "There are some questions about their business prospects. Therefore a more intense level of due diligence would be required."

In 2002, Darcy hoped to bring a cruise-ship builder to Baltimore's Sparrows Point shipyard. The plan, which hinged on a loan guarantee from the U.S. Maritime Administration, did not come to fruition.

While Darcy has been trying to line up commercial financing, the former Metaldyne plant in New Castle has a new owner who has been leasing out the space to other companies. Darcy said he's looking for a different industrial site in New Castle.

In Indianapolis, D'Arcinoff Group hopes to enter a long-term lease for the GM plant with a third party. Darcy declined to disclose the name of the entity that is trying to buy the property.

"I think he's quite credible," Davison said of Darcy. "I think every bit of it's going to happen."


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