Vestas strikes tower deal to boost employment at Colorado factory

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A welder at work at Vestas' Pueblo towers plant.
Photo courtesy Vestas Wind Systems

A welder at work at Vestas' Pueblo towers plant. The company is also hiring painters (see next image) and assemblers. 

Vestas Wind Systems said Wednesday it will ramp up operations — and hire more than 100 people by the end of the first quarter — at its Pueblo, Colo., wind tower plant as part of an agreement reached to supply towers to third-party wind farms in North America.

Vestas said it “soon” will start manufacturing the first part of the third-party tower supply agreement, an agreement that could use as much as 25 percent of the Pueblo plant’s production capacity. Vestas didn’t say where the towers would go, or name the company buying them.

Vestas, based in Denmark with North American headquarters in Portland and operating four manufacturing plants in Colorado, said it will hold two job fairs this week in Colorado and is seeking welders, painters and assemblers.

Companies throughout the American wind energy industry — including Vestas — have laid off workers in the past several months because the federal Production Tax Credit was scheduled to lapse at the end of 2012. As part of the congressional “fiscal cliff” deal reached in early January the tax credit was extended for wind farms that start construction by the end of 2013 and are operational by the end of 2014. The tax credit offers $22 for every megawatt hour of energy produced for the wind farms’ first 10 years of operation.

But Vestas had already reduced its Colorado workforce to about 1,100 people at the end of 2012, down from a high of 1,700 at the end of 2011. The company also announced plans in December to cut hours at its blade factors in Brighton and Windsor to 32 hours a week, and said in early January it would reduce hours at the Pueblo towers plant to 24 hours a week starting Monday, Jan. 14.

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