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Siemens to lay off 615 in Iowa, Kansas, Florida

Published on -9/18/2012, 2:40 PM

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Wind energy equipment manufacturer Siemens Energy Inc. will lay off 615 workers in Iowa, Kansas, and Florida in part because Congress has not renewed a tax credit for wind energy, the company said Tuesday.

Siemens said the biggest job losses will come in Fort Madison, Iowa, where 407 workers at a wind-turbine blade factory will be out of work. About 220 workers will be retained at the plant to support ongoing operations, spokeswoman Melanie Forbrick said in a statement.

The numbers of workers affected in Hutchinson, Kan., and Orlando, Fla., were not immediately released.

The company blamed difficult market conditions due to lack of congressional action on a wind energy tax credit as well as increased use of natural gas-fired power plants. It said it has worked for the past 10 months to address the uncertainties but needed to adjust its work force until demand for turbines returns.

"As a result, following the rapid ramp-up of the wind power industry over the past five years, the industry is facing a significant drop in new orders, and this has an unfortunate consequence on employment in this segment of the power industry," the company said in a statement. "Now, we have had to make the difficult decision to adjust the manufacturing, projects and administrative support functions of our wind power operations to reflect the current and projected business volume."

Full-time workers with at least six months on the job will get a severance package which includes continuation of some benefits, career counseling, resume preparation and job-placement assistance.

The layoffs will leave the company with about 1,000 workers in its wind power business in the United States.

Siemens said over the past five years it has invested $100 million in building its U.S. wind power production. It had reached more than 1,650 workers.

The company says it has manufactured, installed and serviced over 3,900 wind turbines across the country, representing enough electricity to power more than 1.75 million average households.

It says it remains committed to maintaining its U.S. factories and will continue to support the U.S. industry as well as export wind turbine components.

The company began production in a 311,000-sq. foot plant in Fort Madison in 2007 and expanded it to nearly 600,000 sq. feet in 2008, receiving $3.4 million in Department of Energy manufacturing tax credits for the project.

The Kansas plant is about 300,000 sq. feet and makes wind turbine nacelles.

Orlando, Fla., is the headquarters for the company's wind operations in the Americas.

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