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Developer Noble retrenches and cuts staff numbers

The credit crunch and the collapse of Wall Street banks has taken its toll on mid-sized American wind developer Noble Environmental Power, which recently sold a nearly constructed wind plant, stopped work on two others and laid off a number of employees. "Due to conditions in the financial markets, Noble Environmental Power has had to scale back its development plans for 2009. As a result, the company will be cutting back its workforce. We deeply regret this unfortunate situation," says Noble CEO Walter Howard. The firm's 69 MW Noble Thumb 1 wind plant near Ubly, Michigan, was sold to John Deere Renewables for an undisclosed sum. The well-capitalised John Deere already operates the state's first and only other commercial wind plant, the 52.8 MW Harvest wind farm. Construction work on Noble Thumb began in July. The project uses 45 GE 1.5 MW turbines and is expected to be completed by November 2009. Back in New York state, where the main thrust of Noble's development has occurred, construction on the firm's 21 MW Bellmont and 106.5 MW Chateaugay wind plants has been stopped. One of the company's major financial backers was the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers investment bank. Lehman supported development of projects and was also a major underwriter for Noble's planned initial public offering (IPO) of stock, aimed at raising $375 million and announced in May when the firm listed its securities under the S-1 registration at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Anna Giovinetto, the company's former head of public affairs, was among those let go. "Regarding the IPO, the company is maintaining its S-1 registration statement with the SEC, although obviously market conditions aren't ideal right now. However, as long as the S-1 is on file, the company is in a quiet period and is very limited in terms of the statements it can make," says Giovinetto.

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