BIG BLADE: Photo by General Electric Renewable Energy of a blade.

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Arkansas Business reports that LM Wind Power will close its  Little Rock plant that makes giant blades for power-generating windmills because of declining demand.

Manufacturing will end in April and the decision is said to be unrelated to coronavirus. The plant opened at the Little Rock Port in 2008 and was once expected to employ 1,1000.  In 2014, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported about 500 were employed and the company had to repay $3.4 million in state incentives because of failure to meet employment targets. Current employment is believed to be below 400. A loss of federal tax credits for alternative energy has affected the renewable energy business. A GE subsidiary bought the Danish company in 2016. In its statement today it said it would provide employees with at least four months of pay and six months of health coverage.

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The D-G listed the incentives given LM:

In 2007, LM Wind Power received $6.9 million from the Governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund, which is tied to the number of employees at the Little Rock plant.

The company also received $8 million from the Economic Infrastructure Fund and qualified for the corporate income tax exemption for wind-power manufacturers, a refund of sales taxes paid during construction and a cash rebate of a percentage of overall payroll.

In 2018, the company made a pitch for support of SWEPCO’s Wind Catcher project to build a wind farm in Oklahoma to send power to other regions. The Arkansas PSC approved the project which drew heavy criticism from a dark money group.

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SWEPCO canceled the project because of opposition from oil and gas groups.

UPDATE: Statement from Bryan Day at the port:

“LM Wind Power has been a great port tenant and partner since 2008. While we are saddened by the news of their closing, we understand that economies continue to change and evolve. The port will work with LM Wind Power and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to help market the site to other industries. We remain hopeful with the recent announcements of new tenants to the Port of Little Rock, including HMS, CZ-USA and Amazon. Collectively, they will employ thousands of Arkansans, and we remain focused on growing jobs in Central Arkansas.”

UPDATE: In a federally required notice of mass layoffs , the company said 415 employees would be affected. The plant will officially close Dec. 31. First official notice will go to employees Friday. The first layoffs will begin July 17 and continue through the year.