Uncertainty about federal tax break for wind energy a contributing factor.
A Grand Forks maker of wind turbine blades is laying off more than 300 workers, citing a slowdown in wind energy development and the uncertain future of a federal tax break that is important to the industry.
The layoffs will affect 200 full-time production workers, 130 temporary workers and contractors, and 15 administrative staff people, LM Wind Power said in a statement Wednesday. They'll stay on the job until the end of November.
The layoffs will leave 270 people working for LM Wind Power in Grand Forks, said human resources manager Dan Gordon. After the reductions, it will have more than 740 employees in North Dakota, Arkansas, Illinois and Texas, the company statement said.
LM Wind Power is based in Denmark. The company has had a facility in Grand Forks since 1998. Five years ago, LM Wind Power had 900 workers in Grand Forks, the Grand Forks Herald reported (http://bit.ly/P9g5vh ).
The company's layoff announcement said demand for new wind power development in the United States is likely to drop 70 percent by 2013.
A federal production tax credit, which reduces the cost of electricity generated by wind, expires at year's end and may not be renewed by Congress, the company said. The American Wind Energy Association, an industry group, said thousands of layoffs could result if the credit is not renewed.
Klaus Thiessen, president of the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., said he did not believe LM Wind Power intends to close its Grand Forks plant, which makes blades for wind turbines.
"The wind industry, in my opinion, isn't going to go away," Thiessen said.