Wind tower plant in Tulsa shutting down
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
8/08/12 at 2:50 AM
Wind tower manufacturer DMI Industries Inc. will close its Tulsa plant in November as the parent company exits the wind energy business.
The closure will cost 167 people their jobs. Another company plant in West Fargo, N.D., that has 217 employees will close in October, according to a statement from the manufacturer.
"The wind industry's present economics, substantially driven by the absence of a Production Tax Credit renewal by the U.S. Congress, the lack of a predictable national energy policy, and by low natural gas prices has contributed to a dramatic decline in the demand for wind towers," a company news release stated.
The plant is located at 15300 E. Apache St.
Otter Tail Corp., DMI's parent company, said it has agreed to sell DMI properties to an unnamed large metal manufacturer, but all employees at the plants are being laid off.
The Fergus Falls, Minn.-based company expects the sale to close in January.
"We are hopeful that potential new owners, who produce a variety of large metal manufacturing products, will see the value of our plants and skilled workforce going forward," the release stated.
DMI opened the 500,000- square-foot plant in spring 2008 as wind energy promised to curb rising oil prices. The factory employed welders, machinists and other skilled manufacturing workers to make 300-foot, 50-ton poles for electricity-producing turbines.
The company originally spent about $35 million to renovate the site, and another $30 million in 2009, and increased employment to more than 275 people.
DMI was the recipient of Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program tax credits starting in 2008, when company officials said it hoped to employ as many as 596 people.
However, DMI started to see problems in late 2008 when the economy crashed and tighter credit markets halted many large capital projects, including wind-power generation farms. DMI laid off 50 people in January 2009.
Otter Tail officials said work at the plant will cease when DMI's backlog of orders is depleted.
"We are sensitive to the impact this decision may have on our DMI employees, and are committed to providing career-transition support, including severance, as appropriate," company officials said in the statement.
Original Print Headline: Wind tower plant in Tulsa to shut down
Kyle Arnold 918-581-8380
A DMI Industries employee works inside a pipe section for a wind-turbine tower at the company's northeast Tulsa plant. DMI says it is closing the facility and laying off 167 people. JAMES GIBBARD / Tulsa World file