Vestas Wind Systems has announced that it will be consolidating its footprint in Colorado. The US wind industry has long faced boom & bust cycles due to how federal wind power subsidies have played out. In response to lower near-term market demand as well as a desire to strengthen its service and construction setup and improve execution efficiency, it decided to go forward with this consolidation.
“With the consolidation, Vestas is supporting growing business segments and ensuring the foundation for efficient adjustments and scale-up when demand increases again.”
In the consolidation, Vestas will lower manufacturing capacity. This will reduce the employees by 450 across three factories in Colorado. Vestas plans to offer a new role in other parts of its business to at least 150 of those impacted employees.
Vestas will consolidate its blades production to the Windsor Blades factory and repurpose the Brighton Blades site into a North American headquarters for the Global Tooling business — consolidating from six smaller locations. This will end the production of blades at the Brighton Blades factory and result in a layoff of 280 employees. At the Pueblo Towers factory and Brighton Nacelle factories, Vestals will reduce the workforce there by 170 employees.
“The wind energy industry in USA has grown tremendously in recent years, which has increased our factories’ capacity and expanded our service business. With a larger fleet under service and lower demand in the near-term, we are therefore consolidating our setup in Colorado to ensure we can cater for our service business’ needs and are structured in the right way to ramp up efficiently once wind turbine demand requires us to,” Tommy Rahbek Nielsen, Vestas Chief Operating Officer, said in a statement. “We have set initiatives in motion to make sure as many as possible of the 450 colleagues from our factories can move to other parts of our operations, but unfortunately, we still have to say goodbye to colleagues.”
Vestas plans to support the employees that will be impacted and help them transition into other roles into growing parts of the company, such as its service business, which supports the lifetime operations and maintenance of wind park assets.
By keeping four sites in Colorado, Vestas is continuing its strong foundation in one of the world’s largest markets for wind energy — the USA. It hopes to enable future adjustments and efficient scale-up when demand increases again. Vestas employs more than 29,000 colleagues globally, of which around 4,500 are employed in the USA. The consolidation and headcount reductions follow an announcement in August 2020 that production of V136 blades would cease at the factory due to reduced demand for that variant.
Wind power has remained a major source of new power capacity in the United States for the past several years, and it was the top source of new power capacity last year again. However, solar power has been growing its share of new power capacity and that trend is expected to continue indefinitely. Whether a preference for solar over wind power in the world of renewables has a serious impact on demand is unclear.
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