Hundreds of jobs lost as Siemens closes turbine plant in Tillsonburg, Ont.

TILLSONBURG, Ont. — Hundreds of people will be losing their jobs in Tillsonburg, Ont., after a major international company announced the closure of a factory manufacturing wind turbine blades.

Siemens Wind Power Ltd. has announced the factory that employed 340 workers is not large enough to build the sorts of bigger turbine blades the company needs to stay competitive in an increasingly challenging market.

Although the factory won’t be fully closed until early 2018, the majority of staff will feel the effects right away

Siemens says 206 staff are out of work effective immediately, with the rest being phased out over the rest of the year.

The company says it will provide career counselling and job placement support for all employees.

Siemens described the decision as a difficult one, but said the plant was simply not viable given drastic shifts in the demands and profitability of the industry.

The company says the market for wind turbines has become more competitive since the plant opened in 2011, with prices dropping 66 per cent in the past seven years.

Siemens also said the market for wind turbines has shrunk dramatically in eastern Canada, adding the type of blade needed in most cases today cannot be produced at the Tillsonburg plant.

“Today’s market environment requires significantly larger blades, a critical requirement for our business to remain globally competitive,” the company said in a statement announcing the plant closure.

“The Tillsonburg factory cannot easily be adapted to manufacture this product portfolio. The significant investments necessary to bring the plant in line with current market requirements would result in costs that could not be competitive in the global markets.”

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