South Dakota rocked again as a wind turbine plant shuts its doors
John F. Kerry, the president's special envoy on climate, said just months ago that those who lose their jobs in coal and hydraulic fracturing will have better choices, either in the solar industry or as wind turbine technicians.
That was then. Now, a wind turbine factory in Aberdeen, South Dakota, has announced that it will permanently close its doors in less than two months.
The disappearance of molded fiberglass will displace over 300 workers and their families. It marks another major job loss in the state's energy sector after President Joe Biden stopped the Keystone pipeline on the first day of his tenure.
MFG said in a press release that the closure will come due to changing market conditions, foreign competition and proposed tax policy revisions affecting the wind energy industry in the United States.
The Aberdeen plant has been producing rotor blades for wind turbines since 2007. The plant will remain in operation for the next two months until it has completed existing orders.
A family member of one of the workers said they were informed of the closure last Monday. The employees were completely surprised by the announcement. She too was confused by it. "You should swim okay now," she said.
In 2017, MFG threatened to cut 400 jobs at the plant and to close it because of the “proposed revision of tax policy”. At that time, Republican U.S. Senator John Thune halted the shutdown by pushing for an industry-friendly revision of the 2017 tax bill.
Thune said in a statement emailed that at a time when wind energy is seeing record investments, it is worrying that this growth is not being carried over to American jobs. It's especially tough for those in those high-paying jobs in Aberdeen to be faced with insecurity again. Thune criticized Biden's testimony in his speech to Congress: “There is no reason, said Biden,“ the blades for wind turbines cannot be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing. ”But Beijing is getting the whole deal.
The latest ranking of global wind turbine manufacturers by Bloomberg New Energy Finance last year showed that 7 of the top 10 wind turbine manufacturers are Chinese companies. General Electric, an American company, ranks first, but Goldwind of China ranks second. The study also found that by 2020, more than half of the world's newly installed wind power capacity was built in China.
Last month, Thune proposed an amendment to the Democrats' extensive Energy Tax Credit Act, which requires the government to certify that US manufacturers are not being undercut by foreign suppliers who use cheap labor and generate higher emissions. When it closed its 14-year-old plant, the MFG named precisely these two negative factors as reasons.
One day after the announcement, TC Energy, the Canadian pipeline company that wanted to build the Keystone XL pipeline, announced the discontinuation of the project, a 1,700-mile pipeline that will transport 800,000 barrels of oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast every day. through five states including South Dakota.
Although the wind and pipeline industries are different sides of the coin of climate change, both were considered to be the economic lifelines of the small town of South Dakota. Both promised economic stability and a source of income that would keep many cities on their toes until tourism picked up again.
"We're a small community with a population of 28,000, so 300 jobs is a big deal," said one worker's family member. "Granted, two facilities in the city, 3M and Banner Engineering, recently doubled capacity so it should absorb most of the hourly staff," she said. “However, some of these people have been with the company since 2008. How do you start over after 13 years? "
This is the question many Americans ask themselves in manufacturing jobs that have had to compete with cheaper overseas products for generations. And many workers in the energy industry may soon be asking themselves this question.
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Original author: Salena Zito
Original location: South Dakota shook again when a wind turbine plant closes its doors
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