Gamesa announces layoffs at US blade manufacturing plant

Gamesa is laying off 141 people at its wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Ebensburg, about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh. The furloughs will be effective 1 January.

The move, which company officials blame on the soft US economy, will reduce the plant’s work force of 238 unionized workers by more than half.

Officials say bank lending has slowed in the past year, making it harder for developers to get wind farm projects off the ground. The sluggish economy has also cut energy demand.

In contrast, a year ago the plant had a backlog of orders through 2010.

The plant will be idle in December. The company spent much of this year making changes there to allow the facility to begin producing larger blades for its newer series turbines.

United Steelworkers of America officials say more than 60 of the affected workers could be offered buyouts or jobs in other areas of Gamesa , while the remainder will be let go until business rebounds.

Gamesa opened the plant in 2006.

The company says no workforce changes are planned at its plant in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, outside Pittsburgh, where it manufactures the G-80 turbine..