Turbine plant's shutdown part of a larger slowdown in wind energyby Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Public Radio
Moorhead, Minn. — The shutdown of a wind turbine plant in southwestern Minnesota is part of a general slowdown in wind energy.
The Suzlon wind turbine plant in Pipestone laid off 160 workers last year, and nother 110 workers will be let go by the end of this year and the plant will close. Suzlon did not respond to an interview request
The CEO of the American Wind Energy Association Denise Bode said Congress failed to mandate renewable energy use. She said as a result, utilities are building more coal fired power plants and buying less electricity from wind producers.
"We were leading the world in new generation being added and in fact we still lead the world in total generating capacity from wind," Bode said. "But in 2010 wind projects in the U.S. are being installed at half the rate they are in Europe and one-third the rate they are in China."
Bode said new wind projects are down 70 percent from a year ago in what was one of the fastest growing manufacturing sectors.
"To lose that opportunity for new jobs and for new manufacturing, for leadership in the world when people want to come spend money in the U.S. and employ Americans; that is a crying shame," Bode said.
Wind turbine manufacturers around the world are cutting jobs because of the reduction in demand in the U.S.
The plant opened in 2006 and at its peak employed an estimated 500 workers.
While the Suzlon plant will stop production, there will be 30 employees still at the Pipestone plant dealing with customer service.