Vestas plans US workforce expansion

UNITED STATES: Vestas plans to hire 100 people at its Windsor, Colorado blade plant in the next six to 12 months, including 40 in the next three weeks.

Vestas is expanding its blade manufacturing plant at Windsor, Colorado

The Danish manufacturer said it plans to increase employment at Windsor to 750 people by the end of 2011. It opened the plant in 2008.

Vestas is also planning to open its second US blades plant, in Brighton, Colorado, next year. The plant will employ about 650 at full capacity, the company said.

The additions are part of a US payroll surge. Company CEO Ditlev Engel last week told Bloomberg that Vestas plans to add 1,700 US jobs, growing to 4,000 people "in coming months".

But elsewhere Vestas is cutting 3,000 jobs, closing three factories in Denmark and one in Sweden. Vestas chief executive said the aim was to move production "closer to where the action is".

The manufacturer recently acquired land for the Windsor plant’s expansion.

Vestas originally designed the plant to make 80-metre blades for the V80 turbine, but said new hires at the plant would be helping to fulfil orders for the 100-metre V100 blades.

This week Vestas received an order for 50 V100-1.8MW turbines, totalling 90MW, from John Deere Wind Energy. The turbines are for the Michigan Wind II project near Minden City, Michigan, expected online by the end of 2011.

Earlier this month, Vestas received a 58MW order to supply 32 V100-1.8MW machines for a project in Idaho. The wind farm will be the first to use the V100 when it comes online in 2011.

Vestas has also sold the V100 to a project in British Columbia.

Of Vestas’s 2,300 US employees, about 1,600 work in Colorado, where the manufacturer has three plants and a research and development centre.

Last month a worker died after an accident at Vestas’s tower plant in Pueblo, Colorado.