Molded Fiber Glass announced this morning that it is closing its Aberdeen wind blade plant, which will leave 409 people out of work.
As the final orders are fulfilled, employees will begin to be laid off, said Camille Cox, communication representative for the plant.
The plant makes blades for wind turbines for General Electric.
“There are orders that the company is still going to fill, but it expects a complete shutdown by Feb. 15, (2018),” Cox said.
Business continued at the plant this morning as semis pulling wind blades were lined up and ready to leave the Molded Fiber Glass parking lot around 8.
Employees were informed of the closure at the 6 a.m. shift change, Cox said. Nobody is immediately out of work, she said.
“If you’re sweeping the floor, you’d be the last one,” Cox said.
The closure is the result of changes in the wind energy industry and the plans of General Electric, the plant’s sole client, she said. General Electric has acquired its own blade manufacturing plant, which has something to do with the Aberdeen closure, she said.
Cox also noted that the renewable electricity production tax credit – a benefit Molded Fiber Glass has relied on – is expiring. It has been “driving capital investment,” she said.
The credit is given to companies that manufacture wind energy. But, Cox said, it has been a vital to investments companies make in wind turbines, especially large ones made at Molded Fiber Glass, she said.
It started being phased out, 20 percent annually, this year, according to information from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Lobbyists have been working hard to find a replacement for the credit, but Cox said finding one seems unlikely.
Because Molded Fiber Glass works with General Electric exclusively, the plant is set up to make those blades specifically, which means it’s not very flexible, she said.
Cox said Molded Fiber Glass did all it could to get another business in the plant, including attempting to find another buyer. She called the announcement “heartbreaking.”
A few Molded Fiber Glass workers will move to other sites within the company, but that number is very small, Cox said.
“MFG does not have any other facilities in the immediate area and the skill set (in Aberdeen) is very specific,” she said.
Cox didn’t know whether the Aberdeen workers would be getting a severance package.
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