Wind turbine maker hiring hundreds in Colo. as orders roll in

Source: E&E Special • Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013

Vestas Wind Systems A/S is hiring again at its Colorado factories after signing new orders for as much as 3,400 megawatts in North America this year.

The Danish company signed a contract yesterday to deliver 175 turbines of its V100-2.0 MW model to Enel Green Power North America. The contract also entails an additional 636 MW of possible orders that Enel has the option of placing later (see related story).

“We have 1,400 employees at four factories in Colorado at the moment, and we are hiring hundreds more to ensure that we can deliver the orders we got in North America,” said Morten Albaek, chief of marketing at Vestas.

Vestas is in the process of cutting its worldwide workforce to 16,000 by the end of the year from 22,700 at the end of 2011 and was still laying off workers at its Colorado blade plants as of August. Now those factories’ fortunes have turned.

Vestas’ factories in Colorado will be involved in manufacturing blades, nacelles and towers for the 350 MW Enel order. To meet customer demand, Vestas is adding workers at its blade factory in Windsor as well as the blade and nacelle factories in Brighton. Vestas is recruiting now and expects to add hundreds of production workers in the first half of 2014 in Windsor and Brighton, primarily at the two blade factories.

“We’re thankful to work again with a major global company like Enel, which has a proven track record of building successful wind energy projects in this country,” said Chris Brown, president of Vestas sales and service in the United States and Canada.

Vestas has signed firm orders for turbines worth about 1,400 MW in North America so far this year, with potential for an additional 2,000 MW.

“Investors don’t need to worry about Vestas and their activity level in the United States,” said Jacob Pedersen, an analyst at Danish bank Sydbank who follows the company. “They have a good level of orders that will ensure a high activity level at the factories.”

The new orders have added to the company’s backlog as the U.S. wind market was rekindled after the production tax credit, which pays 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of renewable electricity, was renewed at the end of last year.

“We have a total of 2,400 MW in framework agreements signed in the U.S.,” Albaek said. “We are going to work very hard in the coming years to make sure that these turn into firm and unconditional orders.”