Ves­tas faces fa­vor­able winds

Tur­bine maker look­ing to fill 100 man­u­fac­tur­ing po­si­tions at its Brighton plant.

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Aldo Svaldi

A political com­pro­mise that lifted the ban on U.S. oil ex­ports in re­turn for an ex­ten­sion of wind and so­lar power tax cred­its is pay­ing off in Brighton with 100 new man­u­fac­tur­ing jobs.

Ves­tas Wind Sys­tems, the Dan­ish maker of wind tur­bines, is hold­ing job fairs this week in Den­ver to vet ap­pli­cants for po­si­tions that will pay $16.95 an hour and carry full ben­e­fits.

Congress ex­tended a 2.3-cent-perk­ilo­watt-hour pro­duc­tion tax credit for wind power in De­cem­ber as part of a broader push to win sup­port for a lift­ing of a four-decade ban on ex­ports of U.S. crude oil.

The wind credit will phase out by 2020, but the ex­ten­sion has helped re­duce un­cer­tainty for those in­vest­ing in wind tur­bines.

The fed­eral Clean Power Plan, which re­quires states to re­duce car­bon emis­sions from util­ity plants by about a third, if not more, by 2030, is ex­pected to boost de­mand for wind and so­lar sources.

Back in 2012, Ves­tas Colorado’s op­er­a­tions looked on the ropes af­ter the ex­pi­ra­tion of the wind power tax credit caused em­ploy­ment to fall to 1,000 from 1,700.

Now the com­pany is back to 3,100 jobs at its Brighton, Wind­sor and Pue­blo plants, with 350 hires in Au­gust alone.

With the metro Den­ver un­em­ploy­ment rate at a low 3.2 per­cent, find­ing work­ers may prove more chal­leng­ing than in the past. Em­ploy­ment agency Man­power, which is charged with find­ing the work­ers Ves­tas needs,

said in an e-mail that some ap­pli­cants may be hired on the spot at job fairs it is hold­ing.

Man­power has held two days of job fairs and will hold two more — from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wed­nes­day and Fri­day at its Den­ver of­fice, 1560 Broad­way, Suite 100.

Ap­pli­cants should have at least a high school diploma or equiv­a­lent and be able to pass a drug, back­ground check and phys­i­cal test.

Ves­tas is seek­ing at least a year ex­pe­ri­ence in con­struc­tion, au­to­mo­tive, man­u­fac­tur­ing, pro­duc­tion or man­u­fac­tur­ing. Ap­pli­cants should set aside enough time to spend an hour or two at the job fair.

Al­though the la­bor mar­ket is tight, the on­go­ing drop in oil prices is ex­pected to shake loose more work­ers from north­ern Colorado’s oil fields this year. But the ad­just­ment could be a hard one.

Pe­tro­leum sec­tor pay av­er­aged more than $105,000 in 2014, nearly dou­ble the state av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the Univer­sity of Colorado. The new Ves­tas jobs at its Brighton blade and na­celle plant, by con­trast, will pay just above $35,000 a year.

Large hub cast­ings ready for as­sem­bly at Ves­tas Wind Sys­tems in Brighton. Den­ver Post file photo

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