Mitsubishi to ‘Mothball’ Fort Smith plant

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Mitsubishi has decided to “mothball” its Fort Smith wind-turbine manufacturing that was expected to employ 400 at full production.

Officials with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries said the demand for wind turbines in North America had stagnated, with new contracts difficult to obtain. The company is also in an ongoing legal battle with General Electric related to patent claims on wind-turbine equipment.

“Since the 2008 banking crisis, demand for wind turbines in the North American market has stagnated, and the commercialization of cheap oil-shale gas and other matters have had a further dampening effect, making it more difficult for MHI to win new contracts,” the company noted in its statement. “In this market environment, the company has continued to promote the development of new and more competitive wind turbines, but in view of few signs of recovery in the North American wind turbine market, it was decided to take steps that include write-down of related inventory and to build a solid foundation for this business.”

The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority has been in communication with Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas  executives, state and local officials regarding the decision to delay the opening of their wind turbine facility in Chaffee Crossing.

Stephanie Malone, Marketing Director for the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, released the following statement:

“We believe that MPSA’s decision to delay operation of the wind turbine facility at Chaffee Crossing is not an indication that the plant will never open. The FCRA board respects that MPSA executives have to make responsible financial decisions for the sake of their overall operation.  We will continue to maintain open communication with all parties involved and feel very confident that the investment will eventually become a major jobs engine for the greater Fort Smith region. Our relationship remains strong and we will welcome them with open arms, no matter how long it takes to begin production in this first-class facility.”

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