AMSC cuts 25 percent of workforce, consolidates offices
Devens-based provider of wind energy technology American Superconductor Corp. (Nasdaq:AMSC) has cut 25 percent of its workforce and will consolidate its offices, a move that will save AMSC $10 million, the company said Wednesday.
Now, I hate to sound like I'm making light of the layoff - I don't mean to. I've been through it, it sucks, I don't wish it on anyone. I'm sure that many if not all the folks that work for companies like AMSC really believe in their product, both in the ability to produce clean electricity and as a viable business. Some certainly enjoyed the engineering challenges inherent in turning wind into power - something that has been done for centuries, of course, but on a larger scale; some, almost assuredly, felt like they were helping the environment.
The restructuring was a result of adjusted growth plans based on constrained cash flow and financing for wind farm and wind turbine manufacturers, AMSC President and CEO Daniel McGahn said in a release. The company will now operate with 340 employees.
At what point, though, do we start to re-evaluate the market for so-called "green" technology? We've seen dozens of companies - many of which have received quite a bit of taxpayer largess - simply fold up the tent after being unable to make a profit. Wind power, solar power - it just doesn't seem like there's a lot of green in green power. And we know it's not about making "green" energy more readily available to consumers - the tariffs hastily slapped on Chinese solar panels are more than proof of that. If the goal really was to lower our energy dependence and use more "green" electricity production, it wouldn't matter where the solar panels came from, would it?
I guess the larger question is why isn't there a bigger market for alternative energy? Some point to traditional sources being cheaper - a point that is valid but becoming less and less so as time goes by. The high cost of equipment is another - hence the attractiveness of inexpensive solar panels. I would love to install a bank of solar panels in my extremely sunny backyard to power my house - but at last check, I'd wind up dropping anywhere between $20 and $30K on a system that could reliably power my house. My monthly electric bill varies between $100 and $200 a month - so at a minimum it's close to a 10 year payoff before I break even.
I would love to have power generation independent of the standard power grid. My #1 blogson has done a number of posts detailing how vulnerable our power generation and supply system is, and I'd much rather be independent - but not at the price of a decent new truck. There's only so many wealthy guilty liberals and off-the-grid preppers to go around, and it appears that they are not sufficient to maintain a viable demand for alternate energy.
Of course, it doesn't help that as fast as a company can get set up and take fat .gov $$$, they fold faster than a house of cards in a hurricane...
That is all.