March 30, 2012

Wind turbine manufacturer closes Windsor operation

By Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star, 29 March 2012

A wind turbine manufacturer which received $2.7 million to open its doors in Windsor has shut down its local operation after only two years.

The closure of the WindTronics plant in the 600 block of Sprucewood Avenue leaves about 20 employees without a job.

But that number pales in comparison to the 200 jobs the Michigan-based company promised when it accepted a green energy grant from the provincial government.

WindTronics president Reg Adams said Thursday that the blame for the plant’s failure belongs to the Ministry of Energy.

According to Adams, the government did not follow through on a pledge to provide the same consumer discounts for small wind turbine products that have been provided the solar industry.

“We wanted our flagship plant in Canada, that’s why we came here,” he said. “We had multiple meetings for two years for the feed-in tariff (FIT) regarding small wind.”

Those who use large wind turbine products also receive a discount, but there is nothing for smaller wind products, Adams said.

“When we visited with the ministry originally and talked about what was required, we agreed it would be the same payback as solar, and that would entice the industry to get going and we would have been more than happy with that,” Adams said.

“Both with the energy ministry and economic development (ministry), we had multiple discussions and emails the last two years,” Adams continued. “It didn’t happen, then the (provincial) election diffused it, and now they are withholding the release of anything (in further green energy incentives).”

WindTronics was leasing space for its production facility in Windsor with an expiry date of March 31.

Adams said the company will consolidate production back to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where a few of the Windsor employees will be transferred – but the bulk of the company’s Windsor employees will be simply out of a job.

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