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Wind burn

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More cuts at Vestas blade plants in Windsor, Brighton

By Gene Sears

Continuing a downward spiral of insecurity for their Colorado workforce, Vestas Wind announced more cutbacks this week. Slashing an additional 10 percent of the 1,100 still employed in the state, the layoffs comprise approximately 110 workers, between the Brighton and Windsor locations. That decision follows a spate of cuts last year that left hundreds of Colorado workers without jobs. In an effort to stave off further cuts, the company took a novel approach at the end of the year, with help from the state.

    Early in December, Vestas slashed worker hours under a Colorado Department of Labor and Employment work-share program, dropping employees to 32 hours per week. That plan is now shelved, with the remaining employees bumped back up to 40-hour weeks. Vestas again blamed the cuts on Congress, this time highlighting the delay in approving tax subsidies for the beleaguered industry.
    In a statement from Vestas, Senior Manager for Public Affairs Susan Innis explained the lag in orders related to the subsidy approval.
    “Vestas knew the late timing of the federal production tax credit (PTC) extension would result in a significant reduction in 2013 installations relative to previous years, due to the time it takes from when an order is placed to when the project begins,” Innis said. “However, the U.S. market will nonetheless be stronger as a result of the PTC extension. We are confident that orders will be placed and delivered from our U.S. factories. The extension of the PTC did not affect our projections to deliver between 4 to 5 GW worldwide this year and to employ no more than 16,000 people globally by the end of 2013.”
    Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet expressed displeasure at both the layoffs, and the politicizing that led to the uncertainty.
     “It’s frustrating to think about what this announcement means for hundreds of Colorado families, particularly because some of these jobs may have been saved if Congress had passed a wind PTC extension before the eleventh hour,” Bennet said. “Last-minute extensions prolong uncertainty for business — one of the main reasons why 2013 is projected to be a slower year for the wind industry. Congress needs to stop manufacturing these unnecessary crises and give these industries some predictability.”

Contact Staff Writer Gene Sears at
gsears@metrowestnewspapers.com.