BRIGHTON, Colo., and WINDSOR, Colo.—Vestas Wind Systems plans to invest $40 million to upgrade its two Colorado factories so they can make a new line of wind turbines for the U.S. renewable energy market, a move the company says could create up to 1,000 local jobs.
The Denmark-based company, which makes huge land- and sea-based wind turbines that generate electricity, said Tuesday it would spend the money on building expansions, production equipment and new blade molds for the 4.5-megawatt turbines.
It will begin hiring between 800 and 1,000 local employees at its blade factory in Windsor this year and at its nacelle factory in Brighton in 2024, in a move that more than makes up for the company’s 635 layoffs in the state during 2020 and 2021 amid a slump in the wind power industry.
The investment comes as last year’s Inflation Reduction Act gains traction. The federal spending act earmarks hundreds of billions of dollars for clean energy and climate funding through 2031 while bolstering oil and gas leasing.
Manufacturing and clean energy tax credits in the act will help boost wind power jobs in the nation from 200,000 to 520,000 in 2035, according to a recent study by Dartmouth College and Princeton University researchers funded by the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental organizations. That compares with just 270,000 in 2035 without those investments.
"Wind energy is a key economic driver for local communities, and we look forward to bringing new clean energy jobs and economic development to Colorado,” Laura Beane, president of Vestas North America, said in a press release Tuesday. “We applaud Colorado’s continued commitment to expanding clean energy as well as the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which has helped kickstart a domestic supply chain.”
State, county and local incentives have also played a role in Vestas’ operations in Colorado, with Windsor in 2020 chipping in a tax rebate on equipment as long as Vestas spends $15 million on its operations there and keeps 1,105 jobs through 2028.
The Vestas expansion in Brighton and Windsor comes on the heels of an April announcement that South Korean wind turbine and tower manufacturer CS Wind will double production at its tower plant in Pueblo, also in response to Inflation Reduction Act incentives. CS Wind said it will hire at least 850 new employees by 2026, on top of the 250 it has hired this year.
The expansion at what CS Wind says is the world’s largest wind tower manufacturing facility will boost the plant’s production to about 10,000 tower sections per year by 2028. CS Wind bought the factory from Vestas in 2021 during the Danish company’s Colorado consolidation.