Vestas cuts jobs in Brighton

Danish wind-turbine manufacturer Vestas has laid off about 30 workers at its factory in Brighton, the second round of job cuts in its Colorado operations in as many weeks. 

The cuts represent 1 percent of Vestas’ total workforce of more than 3,000 in the United States and Canada, Vestas said Tuesday. The company did not release exact figures, but Vestas now employs about 200 people at the factory following the layoffs.

The company operates two plants in Brighton: One is a nacelle factory where the workers lost their jobs Monday; the other is a blade factory. A nacelle is a structure atop a turbine that houses components that convert a blade’s rotation into electricity.

Vestas blamed the layoffs in Brighton, as well as the layoffs of about 90 people in its plant in Pueblo, on a market slowdown partly stemming from uncertainty about whether Congress will extend the wind production tax credit. The layoffs in Pueblo represented a 3-percent reduction of the company’s 3,000 workers in North America.

Vestas has threatened for months to cut U.S. jobs if Congress did not renew the tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

Brighton officials also have urged Congress to extend the credit, Brighton Economic Development Corp. CEO Robert Smith said in an email. Lawmakers, however, have so far failed to take action.

“Any job loss in Brighton is hard to take — even a relatively modest reduction like this one,” Smith said. “For the families of laid-off workers, the job loss is devastating.”

The company also operates a factory in Windsor. Whether Vestas will cut additional jobs at that blade plant remained unclear Tuesday, but a spokesman did not rule out the possibility.

“We will continue to scale our business up or down depending on business needs and market demand,” the spokesman said in an email.

Vestas is scheduled to release its second-quarter financial results Wednesday.

Although no vote has taken place in the full Senate, that body’s Finance Committee voted earlier this month to extend the wind tax credit. Colorado lawmakers had pressed the full Senate to act on the wind credit at the time.

“We’ll continue to push every way we know how until the tax credit is extended,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet said at the time. “It is an economic driver that’s critical to thousands of jobs in Colorado and tens of thousands of jobs across the country.”

Bennet planned Tuesday to meet with Denver area business leaders about Vestas’ woes. He was scheduled to discuss the need to extend the tax credit during a tour of Walker Component Group’s manufacturing facility, which supplies cables for wind turbines used by Vestas.

Colorado’s economy is continuing to suffer from Congress’ inaction on the tax credit, Bennet said Tuesday in an email from a spokesman.

“We should have a clean vote on an extension of the tax credit immediately when Congress resumes session,” Bennet said. “It has bipartisan support, it is an economic driver throughout the country and Colorado workers are counting on us to get it across the finish line.”

Despite the Brighton layoffs, Vestas said it remained committed to manufacturing wind turbine components in its Colorado factories to meet the needs of its U.S. customers.

Vestas will continue to export turbine components from its U.S. factories to its customers in Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America, the company said.

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