Booming Vestas to add 800 US jobs

Vestas will add another 800 workers at four Colorado plants this year as the company continues a hiring binge to keep pace with a surge of wind turbine orders, an official tells Recharge.

Vestas has announced 1.255GW of “firm and unconditional” US orders since 1 January including four totaling 740MW this month alone from EDF Renewable Energy and Renewable Energy Systems Americas.

It will deliver those turbines through early 2016.

The company has also been accepting third-party tower business amid a tight supply situation in the US, while filling export orders to Canada and Latin America.

Vestas plans to fill 1,500 jobs this year, raising total employment at the facilities to 2,800, says Adam Serchuk, spokesperson and senior marketing director for Vestas in North America.

“The very large majority of those 800 are new positions that we haven’t announced before,” he says, noting that Vestas has filled most of the hundreds of jobs that opened in March.

Serchuk notes that most of the 800 new openings are for full-time positions for skilled people with manufacturing experience. These include production supervisors, buyers, purchasers, welders, health and safety, production engineers, quality controllers, and industrial mechanics and electricians.

Vestas also has created a path in for regular direct employment for people without that background by training them to meet certain performance standards.

The four factories – one blade and one nacelle in Brighton, one blade in Windsor and the Pueblo tower – have capacity to produce 3,900 blades, 1,400 nacelles and 1,000 towers per year.

Today’s business environment is quite a change from early 2013. Vestas then laid off hundreds of workers, cut hours for many still on the payroll and reportedly considered selling the Pueblo plant amid a severe industry downturn.

Congress renewed the federal production tax credit in early 2013 under more favorable eligibility criteria, but then let it expire again at yearend. Still, order books are solid at Vestas through 2015.

The US Treasury will soon provide further clarification as to the “start of construction” eligibility clause in the PTC, a move sought by some project lenders.

“We’re watching it very closely. We’re optimistic that everything on the PTC will be sorted out,” Serchuk says. “We have continued to announce orders and certainly have not halted our business to wait clarification on PTC guidelines.”