The US wind energy industry is going to be stretched early next year.
Tuesday, Vestas announced plans to lay off 185 non-unionized staff positions from its turbine blade factory in Brighton, effective from Jan. 17 next year. That equates to roughly one in six jobs at the plant in Colorado, where Vestas also makes nacelles and towers and has one other blade facility in the town of Windsor.
"Vestas will make all efforts to support the eligible colleagues to be transferred to other openings for Vestas," the OEM says in a statement, adding that the company is hiring hundreds of workers for its service unit and that the coming surplus space will be utilized for its toolings operations.
As a specific factor behind the dismissals, Vestas mentions that it's winding down production of blades for the model V116 made at the Brighton plant. This announcement, not made widely public and initially meant to take place in August, now occurs only a few years after the 66.7-meter blades entered production at the US facility.
As recently as March this year, Vestas revealed plans to implement big procedural changes for local blade manufacturing.
US order intake for the V136 model – with unit capacities typically supplied at 3.45-4.2 MW – has also been rather limited for Vestas as of late. This is not least on account of the OEM also sourcing blades from TPI Composites' plant south of the Mexican border. Such reductions are likely tied to forecasts slating the US market to slump in the coming years in step with the gradual discontinuation of the production tax credit (PTC) subsidy scheme.
Vestas is far from the only wind turbine manufacturer to cut staff from US blade factories. In September, Siemens Gamesa disclosed that a quarter of its positions – corresponding to 130 full-time jobs – would be reduced at its blade factory in Iowa.
Meanwhile, GE announced plans to close subsidiary LM Wind Power's facility in Arkansas, which is one of the US-based OEM's two blade plants in the country.
English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen
(Note: Citation translated from Danish)