Pueblo wind turbine factory draws attention for job creation

Source: by Sam Baranowski, Fox21 News, Pueblo, Colorado • Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014

PUEBLO, COLO. — The Vestas tower factory in southern Pueblo is operating 7 days a week, creating components to keep wind turbines turning across the country.

The company opened its doors Tuesday to take Democratic Senator Mark Udall on a tour of their factory.

“We’re manufacturing right here in Pueblo, right here in America,” Udall said. “That’s a big deal. That’s an important story,” he added.

The company is currently in the midst of a hiring increase, already adding 800 jobs this year. They’re currently on track to add 1,500 job by the end of 2014.

“This is a big deal, this is great news. Colorado has such an important and special role to play. We are an energy producing state, we have an important responsibility to lead the nation,” Udall said.

As for how to continue that leadership, and how to keep these jobs in Pueblo, Udall says extending the current tax credit for wind energy production is key.

Udall worked toward the tax credit extension that was successful in 2013.

“We’re going to get the production tax credit extended. It’s one of my prime missions when it comes to serving the state of Colorado and it’s also a prime mission when it comes to making sure the United States is energy secure, and that we’re creating our own energy future. Wind power is a key part of that effort,” Udall said.

The senator met with factory workers and executives like Tony Knobb, the VP of Vestas Towers America, who said the tax credit is important to their success.

“Our goal, our mission is to be on par with oil and gas. So we’re constantly striving to reduce the cost of energy production,” Knobb said. “The tax credit allows us some incentives that allow better sales, so we hope it gets extended!,” he added.

Colorado is in the top ten states in the country for energy production. It’s also one of only nine states with more than 10% of that energy produced coming from wind.

Vestas produces the largest wind turbine in the world. The one turbine they have at the Pueblo factory is a two-megawatt turbine. That single turbine alone provides 22% of the total power at this seven-day-a-week plant.

“One turbine produces somewhere in the neighborhood of about 2,000 households. That’s a lot. These truly are power supplies and when you couple together a whole field of turbines we can power cities,” Knobb said.

Udall said he’s confident when the legislature returns from recess, the extension will pass.

“Republicans and democrats alike know the energy industry isn’t about democratic or republican parties, it’s about American-grown energy. It’s about being energy secure, it’s about being energy self-reliant. So that’s the good news, and we’re gonna get this done,” Udall said.