Wind power Vestas bolsters Colorado economy: 1,000 jobs created, hiring more local workers

Vestas’ blade factory in Windsor, tower factory in Pueblo and nacelle factory in Brighton have been hiring to fill a variety of new jobs to prepare for several recently announced wind farm orders.

According to Martha Wyrsch, president of Vestas-American Wind Technology Inc., the factories have been hiring quickly but with care in response to a number of announced orders in the United States and Canada. This includes a 250 MW order placed by Enbridge/Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. (RES Americas) for 139 V90-1.8 MW wind turbines to be installed in the Cedar Point Wind farm project in Colorado’s Lincoln, Elbert and Arapahoe counties.

“This latest order in Colorado is especially significant because it is local,” Wyrsch said. “With this order, we will deliver local product — manufactured by a highly skilled, well-trained local workforce — that will be used to build the second-largest wind project in the state.”

Hiring information includes:

* Vestas Blades in Windsor now employs 650 people in areas such as engineering, purchasing, human resources, finance, administration, and production. The factory is still hiring and is specifically looking for production and electro-mechanical workers.

* Vestas Towers in Pueblo — the largest wind tower manufacturing facility in the world — has filled more than 180 new positions in the past few months, bringing the total to 283 employees so far. The tower factory continues its ramp up and seeks skilled workers in a number of areas including plasma cutting, welding and painting. The tower factory will recruit at the Southern Colorado Jobs and Career Fair at the Pueblo Convention Center on July 22, 2010.

* Vestas Nacelles in Brighton, which officially opened July 7, 2010, now employs more than 280 workers, most hired in recent weeks. Recently filled jobs include technicians, logistics personnel, production engineers, quality engineers, planners and team leaders.

“Vestas is employing people in many desirable jobs ranging from engineering to welding to painting,” said Anthony Knopp, vice president for Vestas Towers America. “We have taken advantage of the downturn to hire a number of highly skilled employees who have been turned loose from other industries such as the industrial products and construction fields. We’ve hired all functions related to tower building including steel fabricators, finishers, welders, assemblers and maintenance personnel.”

“Vestas provides skilled workers with training opportunities to transform traditional jobs skills into the new green jobs of the future,” said Kevin Cory, director of People & Culture for the Windsor blade factory. “Many traditional manufacturing job skills are directly transferable to Vestas. That’s a win-win for our company and this state.”

In Colorado, as is true elsewhere throughout Vestas’ global manufacturing operations, employees receive exceptional benefits and opportunities for professional training and development, as well as competitive wages.

“Vestas pays 100 percent of the premiums for health care coverage for its employees and their families making our health and wellness program more competitive than virtually all other employers in the market,” said Gary Held, manager of People & Culture for the new nacelle factory. “Vestas offers an employee educational assistance program, four weeks of annual vacation, and a range of other benefits designed to enhance health, wellness, and career and job satisfaction. We believe this attracts and retains the best talent in Colorado.”

In addition to direct jobs created by Vestas, a number of indirect jobs can be attributed to the company’s growing presence in Colorado, including more than 2,500 construction jobs that helped build the three factories and hundreds of service industry jobs that have recently seen a boost in areas such as security, sanitation and maintenance, food and beverage supply, and tooling and fixturing.

“We are taking the approach that it is important to build the communities in which our employees live and work, and this means we need to have a big picture view of jobs,” Wyrsch said. “With that in mind, we are exploring opportunities with businesses neighboring our factories. We are encouraging suppliers to build the wind industry’s North American supply chain that will help create even more jobs for the wind business.”

Vestas is investing upwards of $1 billion to build four factories in North America and add research and development to Colorado’s growing wind energy sector.

The three Colorado factories, which comprise Vestas’ current manufacturing base in North America, will serve the growing wind energy industry in the U.S., as well as export product to Canada and Mexico. A fourth manufacturing facility, a blade factory in Brighton, is expected to begin operations in 2011.

Vestas, the world leader in providing high-tech wind power systems, has supplied more than 40,500 wind turbines globally since 1979. Vestas provided its first wind turbine in North America in 1981 and since has installed more than 11,000 wind turbines throughout North America.