Ashtabula, Ohio-based compression molder Molded Fiber Glass Cos. is closing a plant in Aberdeen, S.D., that employs about 300 people to make wind turbine blades.
CEO David Giovannini cited long-term changes in market conditions, foreign competition and proposed revisions to tax policies affecting the wind industry as the reasons for permanently closing the plant, effective Aug. 6.
"In an effort to maintain a viable operation, MFG has actively pursued alternate business opportunities during recent months, unfortunately, without success," Giovannini told officials in a letter to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation.
Giovannini had been general manager of MFG South Dakota since 2010 was promoted to MFG CEO on March 1.
The 315,000-square-foot facility, which has been in operation since 2007, was set to close in 2018 when it employed about 400 people. However, the company received two new contracts and was helped by a 2017 tax bill revision pushed by U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Four years later, the plant is facing closure again.
"It's troubling that at a time when wind energy is seeing record investment that this growth would not translate to American jobs, and it's especially hard for these good-paying jobs in Aberdeen to again face uncertainty," Thune said in a statement. "In his first address to Congress, President [Joe] Biden said, 'There's no reason the blades for wind turbines can't be built in Pittsburgh instead of Beijing,' and that, of course, should include Aberdeen."
Founded in 1948, MFG is the original manufacturer of the fiberglass body for the iconic Chevrolet Corvette. In addition to the automotive and renewable energy markets, the family-owned company is in the heavy truck, mass transit, defense and water management markets.
MFG has been in the wind turbine sector since 1980 and has produced more than 20,000 blades. The company also makes wind turbine nacelles and spare parts at facilities in Texas and Alabama. Those businesses will not be negatively impacted by the South Dakota closure, the company said.
The pending Aberdeen closure comes amid the United States setting a first-quarter record for new wind power commissioned this January through March.
The U.S. now has 125,422 megawatts of operational wind capacity, according to the American Clean Power Association. Another 33,834MW of projects are in the pipeline, with offshore wind accounting for 25 percent. Most of the new wind capacity in the pipeline is in Texas, Wyoming and Oklahoma.