Publicly traded US wind project developer New World Power Corp has laid off most of its domestic marketing and technical personnel in a major restructuring of the company. Plans for development and marketing in the US have virtually been halted.

The company's Palm Springs staff is now only maintenance staff. Among those no longer with New World are Bob Paul, international marketing head, Dan Juhl, Midwest representative, and Clare Lees in California. Kevin Jenden in the UK is no longer with New World, having left for other opportunities. Full-time employees at New World and Photocomm worldwide now number 250, says a company spokeswoman.

The moves come while the US market is in a tailspin and amidst charges that the New World management in Lime Rock, Connecticut do not understand the wind business.

The fortunes of the company have clearly been plummeting recently. The smaller of the two wind companies traded on Wall Street, like Kenetech of California it, too, reported disappointing second quarter results in August. The company reported a loss of more than $500,000 on revenues of almost $11 million for the three months ended June 30. Its stock dropped by 33% on October 20 to close at just $2.

The company has scaled back its Palm Springs operation because the more lucrative Standard Offer 4 power purchase contracts on existing projects have come to an end and because the entire domestic market is generally in disarray, says the company's Hank Hermann. Instead, New World has decided to concentrate on completing the financing of development projects already announced rather than seeking additional business, he adds.

Former insiders agreed that poor domestic market prospects have been damaging. Another blow was New World not getting the recent contract from Northern States Power bid for its 100 MW second phase of development. New World bid with tried-and-tested Enercon E-40 turbines from Germany. But a long time wind man and former employee scoffs at one of the reasons given for the Palm Springs lay-offs: "A surprise? We didn't know that was coming? We've known that for ten years," he comments, referring to the expiry of the Standard Offer 4 rates.

Two former employees and long time wind people, based outside Connecticut, say they do not understand the long term or even short term intentions of the company and found the corporate management in Lime Rock closed to their input. "They're not really wind peopleÉ they're Wall Street guys," says one. "The guys in the trenches would bring them ideas and it seems the messenger would get shot."

Another comments that it is top corporate management not lower level staff that should be changed: "It's like a race car -- they took off the wheels instead of looking at the engine." He notes the company has raised perhaps $85 million since going public in various ways, has built virtually nothing except in Britain. Now the company's stock is worth tens of millions of dollars less. He says good ideas circulated at New World, but unless they came from the top, they tended to be ignored. "There was the 'doers' and the 'undoers' [at New World] and the 'undoers' are winning."