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'It cannot happen': Windsor leaders fight to ensure all components of NextStar Energy battery plant remain in Windsor

Local politicians and union leaders are screaming from the rooftop at the federal government to get the full deal done to secure the NextStar Energy battery plant in Windsor after a number of sources confirmed to CTV News the module assembly component could be in jeopardy.

When the battery plant was first announced in March of 2022, it included a 45-Gigawatt, vertically integrated facility, featuring 2,500 jobs for cell production and module assembly and 650 research and development jobs.

Construction of the NextStar module assembly building is almost complete but the past two weeks, Stellantis halted activities over a disagreement with the Canadian government over incentives.

“We're hearing this Stellantis is now looking at moving the module portion of the business as part of their contingency plan. Over to Michigan. And so that is 300 jobs,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

According to Unifor local 444 president Dave Cassidy, the stalemate is over the subsidy for module production.

The U.S., under the inflation reduction act is offering a $45 per killawatt hour subsidy. Through negotiation, Canada is trying to match that, Cassidy said, noting the subsidy gap could equate to billions of dollars on Stellantis’ bottom line every year.

“We cannot have the modules be assembled over there and then brought back across. It cannot happen,” Cassidy said. “These are good paying jobs. We need to make sure we are staying in here and we need to make sure that every flippin politician and Windsor and Essex are singing that.”

Even if cell production continues and module production leaves, Mayor Drew Dilkens is concerned about what losing module assembly could mean to the 650 R&D jobs.

“Everyone needs a full understanding of what it means when you pull one of the legs off the stool,” DIlkens said over the phone. “We want the whole loaf, not a half a loaf Windsor deserves a full loaf, and we want it all built here and continue the construction ASAP.”

Ward 1 city councillor Fred Francis says he’d be very disappointed to see the module assembly jobs go stateside.

“We're literally at the one yard line. Let's cross the goal line and ensure we get as the entire thing. The whole investment, the whole shebang, every single job possible,” said Francis.

Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk said that’s his goal too.

“We're fighting for all of it. We're fighting for every single job,” said Kusmierczyk. “I can tell you that the negotiations right now are at that very last critical stage where all of that is being is being discussed. We're in the advanced stages.”

Kusmierczyk drove to Woodstock Thursday for some face-time with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Speaking with the prime minister today, he said, I am 100 per cent committed to Windsor, and that hasn't changed as well,” said Kusmierczyk.

While everyone waits for a deal, Dilkens said the uncertainty is turning off future supply chain investments and harming the relationship with the city’s largest employer in Stellantis.

“We certainly need to give our largest employer the certainty that they need that the the federal government has committed to matching the US Federal Government's inflation Reduction Act incentives. They need to be there,” said Dilkens. “This was the first project out of the gate they need to fund it so it gets built with people in our community to get employed.”

Stellantis once again declined to comment to CTV News.

Cassidy said he’s been in conversations with politicians of all stripes, as well as the company — noting Stellantis and LGES mean business and need a deal done soon.

“Stellantis has the biggest footprint at any OEM, any OEM in Canada is right here with Stellantis. And yet here we are looking like buffoons and that's what's going on right now. We're looking like buffoons,” he said.

“We need to make sure we get there. Stop the game and stop, whoever's playing it.” Top Stories

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