Vestas cuts 110 Colorado jobs at Brighton, Windsor blade factories

Source: By Mark Jaffe, The Denver Post 02/22/2013 - 3:29 AM EST • Posted: Friday, February 22, 2013

Vestas Wind Systems — which operates four factories in Colorado employing 1,100 people — is cutting about 110 jobs from its blade factories in Windsor and Brighton.

Workers at the factories had been on a reduced 32-hour workweek; with the job cuts, the remaining employees will return to a 40-hour week, Aarhus, Denmark-based Vestas said in a statement.

The move comes in response to a drop in orders as the federal wind-production-tax credit, a key element in financing wind farms, was renewed in January for just one year, the company said.

Vestas knew the late timing of the federal production-tax credit, or PTC, extension, would result in a significant reduction in 2013 installations, the company said.

“It may take a few months for the PTC to take effect,” said Peter Kelley, a spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association, an industry trade group.

“But the extension of the PTC doesn’t solve all the problems,” Kelley said. “We are still faced with the uncertainty and this start-stop cycle that is hard on manufacturers.”

The tax credit is equal to $22 per megawatt that a new wind farm generates for the first 10 years.

In a scramble to get the tax credit before it expired , a record 13,000 megawatts for projects were installed in 2012, representing about $25 billion in investment, according to the Wind Energy Association.

The jobs cuts do not affect Vestas’ nacelles factory, which manufactures casings, in Brighton or its tower factory in Pueblo, the company said

“Vestas will continue to scale up or down depending on business needs and market demands,” the company said.

In the past year, Vestas has reduced its Colorado workforcefrom 1,700 to about 1,000 with the current reductions.

In January, Vestas announced that it would start making towersat its Pueblo plant for other wind companies — a deal that would create more than 100 new jobs.

For 12 years, Vestas had been the world’s largest wind-turbine manufacturer, but in 2012 it was overtaken by the General Electric Co.

GE is also the top wind-turbine maker in the U.S. market, with Vestas second.