“I thought if there was any industry that was bulletproof, it was that industry,” said Rich Mattern, the mayor of West Fargo, N.D., where DMI Industries of Fargo operates a plant that makes towers for wind turbines. Though the flat Dakotas are among the best places in the world for wind farms, DMI recently announced a cut of about 20 percent of its work force because of falling sales.
"Six months ago everyone (in the investment community) said we were not doing enough to meet demand growing at an expected 40% this year. "Now people are saying 'Why have you put in place plans for a 40% increase in capacity when growth levels are only going to be 25%?'," he explained.After the election of Barack Obama, there was a great rush to ramp up in the United States, due to expectations of a wind boom based on the rhetoric of the campaign. The bankers, however, despite an historically broad spread between their borrowing and lending rates, are simply not lending.
The change in economic climate has spurred layoffs at Clipper Wind, the second-largest US turbine manufacturer.
A major layoff today at Clipper Windpower's Cedar Rapids turbine works sent dozens of stunned workers home. Employees leaving the plant said they were told that their terminations were due to slowing market conditions, including difficulty by wind developers to access tax equity and project debt financing. The layoff affected about 90 of the company's 830 employees worldwide, according to Mary Gates, Clipper director of global communications. Gates said "a good number of the layoffs" took place at Clipper's production facility, which employs nearly 390. Gates said some wind developers have asked to defer delivery of wind turbines into 2010 and 2011.