Projected changes to the wind energy market will impact Brighton right away as a maker of wind turbine blades announced it would lay off 280 from its Weld County plant.
Danish-based manufacturer Vestas-American Wind Technology announced plans to consolidate its footprint in Colorado, combining operations in Windsor, Pueblo and Brighton. The company is one of the leaders in the global wind energy market, selling more than 13,000 turbines in the United States since 1979.
The consolidation means that the company will cease making blades for the company’s towering windmills at the Brighton location, laying off 280 workers. The company will also cut employees at its Pueblo towers factory and Brighton nacelles factories by a total of approximately 170 colleagues.
“The wind energy industry in USA has grown tremendously in recent years, which has increased our factories’ capacity and expanded our service business,” company Chief Operations Officer Tommy Rahbek Nielsen said in a written statement. “With a larger fleet under service and lower demand in the near-term, we are therefore consolidating our setup in Colorado to ensure we can cater for our service business’ needs and are structured in the right way to ramp up efficiently once wind turbine demand requires us to.”
The facility is just north of Brighton on East Crown Prince Boulevard.
Patrick Giron, director and chief executive officer of the Brighton Economic Development Corporation, said it’s a business decision by the company.
“They are anticipating a slow-down in the market for new blades and new wind turbines but an increase in the need to maintain what is already in existence,” Giron said. “They are just right-sizing the operation throughout the state to respond to that anticipated change in their business.”
The Brighton facility will remain open.
“They are not closing the shop,” Giron said. “While they are shutting down blades manufacturing in Brighton, they are also consolidating other parts of their operation from six other places and bringing those to Brighton.”
Giron said he expects the Brighton facility will concentrate on maintaining windmills that are already installed.
Giron said that the company, the Economic Development Corporation, and Weld County Employment Services are working together to help those losing their jobs.
“It’s called a rapid response to make sure that everything is being done to help those impacted by the layoffs to find new employment,” Giron said.
Giron said the Weld County would be contacting the employees directly and help with job searches, re-training and resume tuning.
“Whenever there is a sizable layoff, the business must report it to the state,” Giron said. “What that does is set off a series of events. The county workforce development services will get involved with the business to get access to those employees and get them services.”
“We have set initiatives in motion to make sure as many as possible of the 450 colleagues from our factories can move to other parts of our operations, but unfortunately, we still have to say goodbye to colleagues,” company COO Nielsen said in the statement.