Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has announced that due to uncertainty surrounding the extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC), it has laid off an undisclosed number of workers at its Pueblo, Colo., manufacturing facility.
The announcement comes less than a week after President Barack Obama spoke out in favor of wind energy and the PTC at a campaign event in Pueblo.
In January, Vestas eliminated 2,335 positions – mostly in Europe – and threatened another wave of layoffs in the U.S. if the PTC were not renewed. The cuts announced this week in Pueblo represent approximately 3% of the company's total workforce in the U.S. and Canada, Vestas spokesperson Andrew Longeteig confirmed to NAW, but it is uncertain if there are more layoffs to come.
However, the company said it would continue to produce turbines and components from its Colorado facilities, which, in addition to the Pueblo facility, include two factories in Brighton and one in Windsor.
"Vestas remains committed to manufacturing wind turbine components in its Colorado factories to meet the needs of its U.S. customers, and Vestas will continue to export turbine components from its U.S. factories to its customers in Canada, Mexico, and Central and South America," Longeteig said in an emailed statement to NAW.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., who has pushed hard for a wind energy PTC extension, called the layoffs "disconcerting," noting that the Vestas decision underscores the "real-life consequences of congressional inaction on extending the wind production tax credit."
"Vestas' announcement today of its decision to lay off workers in Pueblo shows the real-life effect of Congress' refusal to pass the wind PTC as soon as possible," Udall said in a statement. "Our decision to wait until the fall, when we knew this was a problem, places not only good-paying jobs at risk, but also slows our nation's progress toward true energy independence. We should not let partisanship undercut the U.S. wind manufacturing industry and our Colorado communities."
Udall recently co-introduced an amendment to the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act that would extend the PTC. However, the amendment failed to receive enough votes to move forward.
Nonetheless, the PTC remains alive in another form: The U.S. Senate Finance Committee passed a $205 billion tax-extender package as part of the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 that includes a one-year extension of the wind energy PTC and the investment tax credit.