ACCIONA Windpower Lays Off 40 at West Branch Plant

Acciona Windpower's new wind turbine assembly plant Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008 in West Branch. The plant will assemble wind turbine generators for wind farms throughout North America. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

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By Aaron Hepker

WEST BRANCH, Iowa - A slowdown in orders for new wind turbines has led to the layoff Monday of 40 employees at the ACCIONA Windpower plant in West Branch.

The company, in a statement confirming the reduction in force, said the decision to eliminate the jobs was "very difficult."

"U.S. wind development declined sharply over the past year for reasons beyond our control," ACCIONA Windpower said. "The reduction in our work force is necessary to meet the current volume of production while we work to complete new turbine supply agreements."

ACCIONA Windpower, a subsidiary of ACCIONA Energy S.A. of Pamplona, Spain, said it remains committed to the North American market. The West Branch plant is believed to have employed about 100 before Monday's action.

"We will continue to maintain production capacity at our West Branch facility and provide operations and maintenance services for our fleet of North American wind turbines per our contractual obligations," the company continued.

"We also will continue to focus our sales and business development efforts toward the goal of ramping up production."

The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board in January approved a six-month extension for ACCIONA Windpower to complete the testing and certification process for two 3-megawatt wind turbines installed in the Pioneer Grove wind farm near Mechanicsville in Cedar County.

The company in October 2010 was approved for $3 million from the Iowa Power Fund for the project and has received several contract extensions.

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