18% Vestas layoffs hit Colorado

Vestas has cut staff at two Colorado blade factories, citing low demand for new wind equipment in 2013 as the federal production tax credit expires at the end of the year.

This week Vestas reduced its manufacturing workforce at the Brighton and Windsor facilities.

“Overall, about 18% of Vestas’ entire Colorado manufacturing workforce was affected this week at its two blade factories. In 2012, Vestas’ manufacturing workforce in Colorado has decreased from more than 1,700 to about 1,200 people at four factories, which includes attrition, relocations and reductions,” a company statement said.

The Danish wind turbine manufacturer, the largest in the world, opened four manufacturing facilities in Colorado within the last four years as it sought to maintain market share in the United Stars and Canada while reducing expensive shipping costs from its European base to North America.

The company said its Colorado factories will continue to manufacture wind turbine components for the U.S. market, as well as export to Canada and Latin America.

“Vestas has adopted a flexible business strategy in the U.S. and Canada during a period of changing market dynamics in the wind industry. Vestas will continue to scale up or down depending on business needs and market demands,” the statement continued.

Vestas had cut smaller numbers of workers earlier this year as the industry saw a slump coming when Congress failed to extend the PTC. Overall, the company reduced its workforce in the U.S. and Canada by about 20% in 2012 — from more than 3,400 employees to about 2,600. Affected positions in 2012 include those in manufacturing, sales, service, supply chain, and research and development.

Vestas said 2012 has been its best year in the U.S. and Canada by supplying wind turbines to more than 20 new wind power projects. Its plants have been filling export orders for customers in Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America.