Siemens announced Tuesday it will layoff 407 employees at its Fort Madison wind blade plant. Company spokesperson, Melanie Forbrick, says the expiration of the federal tax credit for wind energy is one of the key reasons for the layoff, but not the only one.
“Other factors include natural gas prices which have fallen to an all-time low, and that is encouraging utility companies to use natural gas-fired (energy) generation instead wind power. And then finally, we’re still seeing linger effects of the recession on energy demand,” Forbrick explains.
The company has 660 employees, a staff level Forbrick says was driven by the impact of the wind tax credit. “What has ended up happening in this year is that we’ve had an artificial peak come in because of the expiration of the production tax credit,” Forbrick explains.
“A lot of the developers have brought their orders from what would have been probably been spread over a couple or three years into this year, which means we’re going to see a dip for the short-term, and that’s going to have an impact unfortunately across the entire industry.”
She says the employees being laid off will get severance packages. The packages include a 60-day paid notice, a severance period based on years of service that will be a minimum of four weeks, benefits continuation, career counseling and a $5,000 education and retraining benefit.
Local economic development officials say they are working with the state to help provide assistance to the workers who will be laid off.