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Over 15 million metric tons of cargo moved through the St. Lawrence Seaway during the month of July, down just 4% over last year, marking a sustained comeback after a slow start to the shipping season. That uptick in activity is, in part, thanks to shipments of wind power components.

"The month of July was extremely busy for our ports on the Great Lakes-Seaway System as they handled high-value cargoes like steel, wind components and machinery that arrived from 13 different countries," says Rebecca Spruill, director of trade development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. "When compared to July of last year, double the number of foreign flagged ships from as far away as Korea and Taiwan transited through the U.S. locks."

Project cargoes were the story at U.S. ports last month.

On July 7, the Port of Muskegon in Michigan welcomed the HHL Elbe carrying wind turbine blades and nacelles from Germany. The components are part of the second phase of the Beebe Community Wind Project in Gratiot County, Mich. The first phase of the project was completed in December 2012.

As with that first phase, the West Michigan Dock and Market Corp. teamed with KK Integrated Logistics to handle the stevedoring of the components. “The Port of Muskegon has again been at the center of alternative energy efforts in Michigan,” says Terry J. Sabo, chairman of the Port Advisory Committee. “Having experienced port operators is key to re-establishing ourselves as the only deepwater port on the west side of the state.” Three more vessels are due to arrive in August with additional components for the wind project.

On July 17, the BBC cargo ship Peter Roenna arrived at the Port of Duluth in Minnesota carrying over two dozen wind energy components after a voyage from Denmark, where the equipment was manufactured by Siemens.

Since the port first started handling these project cargoes for Minnesota Power, a total of 15 shiploads of wind energy equipment have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and sailed through the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Great Lakes into Duluth. The first shipments arrived in 2006 for the Bison Wind Energy Center in North Dakota. The fourth phase of that project is currently under way.

Dave McMillan, executive vice president of Minnesota Power, says, “This latest shipment turns a spotlight on the global nature of sustainable energy and the importance of efficiently transporting goods and services.”

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