Wind Takes Another Hit as Clipper Clips its Wings


First, Clipper Windpower laid off some workers. Now the Carpinteria, Calif.-based turbine maker is cutting its production for 2009, blaming a rocky economy and deferred customer orders. The company manufactured 289 wind turbine drivetrains at its Cedar Rapids, Iowa, plant in 2008, but expects a 15-20 percent drop in production for this year.


The global credit credit crunch, as well as lower energy prices, means Clipper’s customers are not spending as much money, and even if they’ve already ordered turbines, they’re putting off getting them delivered, which could leave Clipper holding the bag on a lot of extra turbines with no place to go.

So, a slow year is ahead for Clipper, but things also look bad in the rear view mirror — the company is predicting a loss for the second half of 2008, although it said an audit of its full year financial statements has not yet been completed.

Things were already looking bad last month when the the company laid off 90 workers at the Ceder Rapids plant, its only manufacturing facility, following layoffs at a number of other wind power companies, including Madrid’s Gamesa and Fargo, N.D.-based DMI Industries.

Although the U.S. has overtaken Germany to become No. 1 wind power generator in the world, the American Wind Energy Association said in a recent report that by the end of 2008, financing for new wind projects and new orders for turbines and components “slowed to a trickle” as the credit crunch started to hit the wind industry. The U.S. had a total installed capacity of 25.2 gigawatts for 2008, with Germany coming in at 23.9 GW.

Clipper could be pinning its hopes on President Barack Obama’s renewable energy agenda. Doug Pertz, CEO of Clipper, said in a statement that the policies of the new administration should promote “a strong, long-term investment market for wind energy in the U.S.” Obama’s proposed $825 billion stimulus plan includes $54 billion for clean power and energy efficiency projects.

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