Pueblo picked for wind-turbine tower plant | AspenTimes.com

Pueblo picked for wind-turbine tower plant

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

PUEBLO, Colo. ” Wind-turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems has picked Pueblo as the site of a factory to build the towers that support its turbines.

Vestas has said it will be the biggest turbine-tower factory in the world.

Gov. Bill Ritter was expected to attend the formal announcement of the factory Friday in Pueblo.

Last week, the Danish company announced it will build two plants in Brighton, northeast of Denver, to make turbine blades and nacelles ” the turbine housings that include the generator, transformer and gearbox.

Vestas already has a blade-making plant in Windsor, 50 miles north of Denver, which currently has 200 workers and is expected to have 650 at full employment.

Vestas eventually is expected to employ 2,450 people in Colorado.

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“I applaud Vestas for continuing to invest in Colorado ” this time in Pueblo ” and bringing new jobs to one of the greatest communities in the state,” Ritter said in a written statement.

“Vestas’ decision to locate what will be the world’s largest wind-tower manufacturing plant here in Pueblo demonstrates that our New Energy Economy is benefiting every corner of Colorado,” he said.

Ritter, who took office in January 2007, has promoted what he calls a “new energy economy,” tapping Colorado’s wind and solar resources as well as conventional sources such as natural gas and other minerals.

He has promoted drawing on the expertise at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden and other federal facilities and universities to make Colorado magnet for the renewable energy industry.

Knud Bjarne Hansen, president of Vestas Towers, a division of the Denmark-based Vestas, told The Pueblo Chieftain Thursday that the plant will produce 1,000 tower units year. He said the facility also will be the company’s largest-ever investment in a single plant.

“The size of this facility, when it’s fully operational in 2010, will produce 50 percent of what we have now on the globe,” Hansen said.

Craig Cox, executive director of the Colorado-based Interwest Energy Alliance, a trade and advocacy group, said Colorado has put policies in place to attract companies like Vestas, even though other states can offer more financial incentives.

“I think that the governor’s aggressive pursuit of the new energy economy is beginning to pay tangible benefits,” Cox said.

Vestas has cited access to rail service and a skilled work force as reasons for choosing Colorado sites. They’ve also noted the statewide renewable energy standard, which requires utilities selling electricity in Colorado to get 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2020.

State economic development officials said Colorado offered incentives ranging from $1 million to $1.5 million to land the two Brighton plants, contingent on the number of jobs created.

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