Another Wind Blade Company Returns To Iowa Because Of Federal Funding

A worker cuts fiberglass fabric as part of the production of wind turbine blades at the Siemens Wind Turbine Production Facility in Fort Madison, Iowa. (Photo by Timothy Fadek/Corbis via Getty Images)

Thanks to federal legislation, another manufacturer is returning to Iowa.

The Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy plant in Fort Madison is now rehiring workers and plans to restart production next year. The company produces wind turbine blades in Southeast Iowa and was a large employer in the region.

It wouldn’t have been possible without the Inflation Reduction Act, signed by President Joe Biden in August, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed in December 2021.

“It’s an outgrowth of the passing of the Infrastructure Inflation Reduction acts along with them getting some new orders. With those two things combined, they felt confident in their order flower and whether they could reopen the plant,” Dennis Fraise, President and CEO of the Lee County Economic Development Group told Tri States Public Radio.

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In May, Siemens Gamesa laid off 171 workers in Fort Madison. It also cut 121 jobs in February 2021. But now numbers have returned to pre-layoff levels and more.

According to Fraise, who talked to a plant manager, 250 new employees have been hired and future numbers will depend on wind blade orders and opportunities.

Two production lines for large wind turbine blades have opened and they’ll be operational by the end of the year, Fraise told Starting Line.

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Earlier this year, Siemens Gamesa announced the layoffs, calling it a hibernation and suggesting the shutdown was temporary. But no one had an estimate for how long the shutdown would last. Reporting at the time suggested they were waiting for more orders for blades.

“Siemens reopening will have a positive effect on the Fort Madison area,” Fraise told Starting Line. “Many employees will be able to return to their original positions and the reopening will help strengthen the local economy.”

Another company in Iowa—Newton’s TPI Composites—also reopened its doors this year thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.

In November, the company announced it signed a 10-year lease extension with General Electric Renewable Energy to produce turbine blades.

TPI, Jasper County’s largest employer, had to lay off about 750 employees.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which is also meant to reduce the deficit and lower prescription drug prices, will invest in domestic renewable energy production with the focus of putting the United States on the leading edge of manufacturing the infrastructure for renewable energy such as wind and solar power. And Iowa has the chance to play a part in it with its existing wind power industry.

 

Nikoel Hytrek
12/22/22

 

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Have a story idea or something I should know? Email me at nikoel@iowastartingline.com. You can also DM me on Twitter at @n_hytrek

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