Vestas to ax all R&D in United States
November 7, 2012
Not even a month after reporting it would consolidate its three American research and development facilities into its Brighton manufacturing plant, Vestas officials have decided against it.
The Danish company, hit hard by the economic downturn and uncertainty over the U.S. wind production tax credit, reported late Wednesday it would close all three R&D offices in the United States in the next three to six months, resulting in a loss of 85 more jobs.
“Vestas must reduce its operational costs and create a leaner organization in R&D and other parts of the business to remain competitive in a quickly changing market,” company spokesman Andrew Longeteig said in a news release. “Our R&D strategy was revised with this in mind, and we need to reduce our global footprint.”
The company has reduced its global workforce immensely in the past two months in efforts to pare its workforce to a planned 19,000 because of slowdowns in the market.
The brunt of the layoffs occurred in Colorado, where the company had four manufacturing plants: a tower facility in Pueblo; a blade manufacturing company in Windsor; and a blade and nacelle factory in Brighton for not quite five years.
Colorado began the year with 1,700 employees at the Vestas plants, ending with about 1,200 by the second week of October. On Oct. 11, the company let roughly 200 people go from its Windsor plant. Days later, two plant managers left the plant, according to one employee who was spared in the cuts, though it’s unclear if they were let go or left on their own.
The employee, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said that most of the management functions of the Windsor plant have been left up to the company’s Portland, Ore., offices.
Last month, Vestas stated it would eventually consolidate its U.S. R&D operations into one of the Brighton plants, citing its commitment to the Colorado market. Those operations are in Houston and Marlborough, Mass., and Louisville.
In its release, Longeteig reported that Vestas also closed R&D locations this year in China, Denmark and Singapore, reducing its R&D employee base by about 20 percent compared with 2011.
“Vestas will continue its R&D presence in six other locations around the world that will be able to design and develop products in a leaner and faster way,” Longeteig said in the release. “This focus on product development expects to more quickly increase turbine efficiency and lower costs for Vestas’ customers.”
The company has been anxiously awaiting a decision by Congress on whether it will continue the wind tax credit, which expires at the end of the year. The credit is extended to those using wind energy, and equates to 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the production of electricity from turbines and applies for the first 10 years of electricity production.