HUTCHINSON—Renewable energy firm Siemens Gamesa will be shutting down its Hutchinson nacelle facility indefinitely to address what it says are continued challenges in production demand for the US onshore wind energy market, according to a media release.
The plant will shut down at the end of the month and the stoppage will run through July 31. The shutdown also affects the Ft. Madison, Iowa blade facility. In February the firm reported layoffs involving 69 employees in Hutchinson and 121 in Iowa.
Employees at both facilities will be released from employment during this time. All affected employees will be provided with a comprehensive separation package, which includes severance pay, benefits continuation, career counseling, resume preparation and job placement assistance. The closing affects 92 workers at the Hutchinson plant.
“The hibernation of our manufacturing and assembly facilities is an unfortunate but necessary measure to address the current challenges in the US onshore wind market,” Shannon Sturgil, CEO of Onshore North America said. “We continue to pursue new orders and remain fully committed to finding a path in support of our Fort Madison and Hutchinson manufacturing facilities.”
Siemens Gamesa faced a patent challenge against features of its onshore wind turbines in 2021 brought by a competitor. While the International Trade Commission ultimately ruled in favor of Siemens Gamesa, the company was unable to pursue orders during that period. Since then, the US wind market for onshore has slowed in anticipation of new climate legislation and the accompanying renewable energy incentives. Combined with long lead times on wind energy projects, these factors have resulted in a “production gap” in 2022.
“Our employees have remained professional and committed throughout this challenging time in the US onshore wind market, and I want to thank them for their dedication,” Sturgil said. “The hibernation of the two facilities in no way reflects the excellent work done by the teams at those locations. We explored many options to address the current shortfall, and ultimately found the hibernation plan to be the most viable option for the long-term success of our manufacturing and assembly plants in the United States.”
The hibernation of the two facilities will have no impact on Siemens Gamesa’s delivery of current onshore contracts, and is entirely unrelated to the company’s offshore wind business, including further development of the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind commercial project agreements.
Since the facility opened in 2010, workers at Siemens Gamesa’s plant in Hutchinson have produced approximately 5,500 nacelles, which sit atop the wind tower, supporting the rotor and housing components for electric power generation.