Shipping season off to solid startPowered by a resurging domestic steel industry and demand for wind energy components from overseas, the Great Lakes shipping season is holding its own, up about 2 percent over last year.
By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Powered by a resurging domestic steel industry and demand for wind energy components from overseas, the Great Lakes shipping season is holding its own, up about 2 percent over last year.
The Great Lakes season doesn’t really get going until April but Lake Carriers Association vice president Glen Nekvasil says so far, so good.
“The iron ore is steady. The steel industry has been operating at a pretty good clip the last couple of years. It’s good to see that limestone moving up a bit. It would suggest that maybe our construction industry is trying to shake off some of its sluggishness,” he said. “But again, we still have vessels that are not in service, so the economy has yet to fully recover as we all well know.”
Fifty of the 57 U.S. flagged vessels are plying the five Great Lakes. The Port of Duluth-Superior is showing steady numbers in iron ore and coal. Port spokeswoman Adele Yorde says they’re optimistic about this season: “Good solid start.”
One reason for the optimism is large, wind energy components from Japan and Europe shipped through the Great Lakes to the Dakotas, Montana and Canada. Yorde says there’s a rush on now because of a wind production tax credit set to expire at the end of this year.
“And as a result, any of the developers who have had projects on the books, have worked really hard to get their cargoes booked to get in this year. So we have about 20 shipments due in over the course of the next few months. We’ve had five in already,” she said.
The St. Lawrence Seaway says international shipping is also up 2 percent through April lead by coal and iron ore from Duluth-Superior, but offset somewhat by a decline in grain.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.