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US Ex-Im Bank in $32m loan guarantee for Brazil-bound blades

The Export Import Bank of the US (Ex-Im) has approved a $32.1m loan guarantee to Brazilian wind equipment group Wind Power Energia, which plans to buy American-made turbine blades.

The Ex-Im guarantee will underpin the Brazilian company’s purchase of blades manufactured by the US subsidiary of LM Wind Power.

The blades will be used on turbines to be deployed by Wind Power Energia at a 180MW wind farm in the Brazilian state of Bahia and a 211MW plant in the state of Ceara.

The guarantee from Ex-Im – which has a remit to support projects that benefit US exports – will back up a loan from Bank of America.

It will help support about 250 permanent jobs at LM Wind Power Blades’ facilities in Arkansas and North Dakota, says Ex-Im chairman Fred Hochberg.

"The Bank's loan guarantee will facilitate the export of American-made products to one of our nine key markets at a critical time. By doing so, it will simultaneously support American jobs in a valuable industry and boost Brazil's clean-energy prospects," Hochberg says.

News of the loan guarantee will be a boost to LM Wind's workers a week after the company announced it would cut the jobs of 94 full-time employees, and 140 temporary staff and contractors, at Little Rock, Arkansas.

LM said the cuts are a result of falling sales caused by non-renewal of the US Production Tax Credit (PTC).

The blade-maker expects US demand to fall by 70% in 2012. It says it will retain a "strong presence" of more than 1,100 workers in the US "but will continue to have to reassess as long as the PTC remains in question".