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GE buying wind blade manufacturer LM Wind Power for $1.65B

GeneralElectric Co. plans to insource design and manufacturing of theblades for its wind turbines with a $1.65 billion acquisition of .

GE, which produced turbines for about 40% of new wind powercapacity installed in the U.S. last year, said it sees an opportunity toimprove technology and lower costs at a time when renewables are gaining marketshare because of improving economics and policies aimed at lowering countries'carbon emissions.

The acquisition is expected to close in the first half of2017 and to be accretive to GE's earnings in 2018.

"This combination will help sustain growth in the windpower industry," Jérôme Pécresse, president and CEO of GE RenewableEnergy, said in a news release Oct. 11. "Simply stated, we'll be morelocal, have more flexibility and knowledge in turbine design and supply, andmore ability to innovate and reduce product costs, while improving turbine performance.We will also develop enhanced digital and services capabilities."

LM Wind Power, owned by London-based private-equity firmDoughty Hanson since2001, describes itself as a leading supplier of wind turbine blades, with 13factories across eight countries.

Offshore wind turbine blades being transported from Denmark to the U.S. for installation at the Block Island wind farm.

Source: General Electric / LM Wind Power

GE said it plans to continue to support all of LM Wind Power'sindustry customers and plans to expand those relationships. Meanwhile, thecompany will also retain the ability to source blades from other suppliers,according to a statement.

GE shipped 856 wind turbines during the second quarter, a 6%increase from a year earlier. "The market reception of the new windproducts has been solid and we're progressing down the cost curve," GESenior Vice President and CFO Jeffrey Bornstein said on an earnings conferencecall in July. "We think the outlook for the onshore wind business is veryencouraging."

In the U.S., developers installed 851 MW of new wind capacity during the secondquarter, a 37% increase from the prior quarter, but down 46% from a yearearlier when the industry was workingits way through a backlog of projects that were hustled into constructionbefore the federal investment tax credit expired at the of 2014.

Also on Oct. 11, GEEnergy Financial Services said it is adding to its existingrenewable energy investments with tax equity funding for 's 30-MW wind farmoff the coast ofRhode Island. Citialso committed tax equity funding.

The project, which is using GE-supplied turbines, is expectedto enter commercial operation in November.