THE "WORLD'S LARGEST PLATE MILL"
1990 - U. S. Steel undertakes modernization of 210" Plate Mill
1998 - U. S. Steel undertakes modernization of 210" Plate Mill Heat Treat Line
If you get a maintenance call, you may need someone just to show you how to get there, said Pete Trinidad, vice president of Local 6787.
WIND POWERS PLATE MILL
GARY -- For the past year, 220 workers at ArcelorMittal's plate mill in Gary have been the best-kept secret in Northwest Indiana. To them, "green jobs" is more than a catch phrase in a presidential election campaign. It's food on the table every day.
Nearly a year ago to the day, the workers rolled their first slab of plate steel at the Gary Works 210 inch plate mill, formerly owned by U.S. Steel. ArcelorMittal spent $35 million to revamp and reopen the plant, allowing the company to meet increasing demand from the energy market. Much of the steel is used for windmills, and demand is growing. "Plate used in construction of wind towers was one of the main market drivers for reopening the Gary mill," said Shelby Pixley, chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal Plate USA, via e-mail. "We sell plate to wind tower manufacturers and fabricators all over the country." Today, the towers are going up across the middle part of the United States and demand is higher than ever. The average wind mill contains 215 tons of steel. With a push for more renewable energy, demand for plate steel massively outpaces supply, creating a four-year backlog.
"The generation of renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide. In the United States, it's growing more than anywhere worldwide," said David Foster, executive director of the Blue-Green Alliance, a collaboration between the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club. "Steel is an absolutely integral material for the transition to a low-carbon economy."In 2004, the Energy Information Administration predicted that the United States would increase its 5,000-megawatt production of wind energy to 16,000 megawatts by 2024, Foster said. "They said that amount would triple. In fact, in only two years, in 2006, we exceeded 16,000 megawatts. That gives you a sense of just how rapidly things are moving," he said. According to the Energy Information Administration under the Department of Energy, wind-generated electricity increased by 45 percent between 2005 and 21 percent from 2006 to 2007 -- more than any other renewable source. The Steelworkers are teaming up with environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Michigan City-based Save the Dunes Council, to grow more green jobs in Northwest Indiana. "If we don't take advantage of these opportunities, someone else in the world will," said Tom Anderson, executive director of Save the Dunes Council. "We're in a wonderful location. We make more steel than any other district in the United States. We have access to transportation. We have large amounts of energy and water available. This is the future. The time is now."
ArcelorMittal expects continued growth in 2009. The recently reopened plate mill can produce plate up to 5 feet wide and 125 feet long.
Another view of the exit side of the 210" Plate Mill. Visitors to the 210"