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Report: Mitsubishi to Suspend Turbine Plant in Fort Smith

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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. will suspend construction of its wind turbine manufacturing plant in Fort Smith amid sluggish demand in the U.S., according to a report Monday from Bloomberg.

"We are putting the factory on hold for now," Hideo Ikuno, a spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy, told Bloomberg.

The company might resume construction once there are signs of a recovery in demand, Ikuno said.

About 400 people were expected to work at the $100 million plant once it reached full capacity.

Gov. Mike Beebe called the decision a "setback," but said it doesn’t mean the company is leaving the state.

"Mitsubishi has invested tens of millions of dollars in its state-of-the-art Fort Smith facility," Beebe said. "We will continue working with the company to be ready if the opportunity returns to open that plant. 

Beebe also noted that Mitsubishi is dealing with patent litigation and energy markets altered by inexpensive natural gas. 

"However, the complication I find the most frustrating is the inability of Congress to adopt a stable, long-term national energy policy," Beebe said. "Wind-energy companies need to know if incentives will or won’t be available to them long-term. Having to wait every year to find out the fate of federal support for this emerging industry does not help innovation or economic development."

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