Manufacturers

Job losses mount in wind energy industry as Vestas slashes workforce

The job losses continue to mount in the
wind energy sector over the uncertainty as to whether Congress will extend a tax credit for the industry.

Vestas, the world’s largest manufacturer
of wind turbines, says it has lost about 20% of its U.S. workforce in 2012 due
to that uncertainty. The job cuts have come in manufacturing, service, sales,
supply chain, and research and development.  

In a statement on its website, Vestas
says it has slashed its workforce in the United States and Canada to about
2,600 employees, down from 3,400 at the beginning of 2012. Overall in 2012, Vestas’ manufacturing workforce at its four Colorado
factories has decreased from more than 1,700 to about 1,200 people. This
decrease includes employee attrition, relocations and reductions.

“Vestas will continue to scale its
workforce up or down depending on business needs and market demands,” the
company said in the statement.  Vestas also noted a “significant reduction” in
turbine orders for next year.

Despite the cuts, Vestas says it has
experienced its busiest year ever in the wind turbine industry in the United
States and Canada by supplying wind turbines to more than 20 wind power
projects.

However, Martha Wyrsch, president of
Vestas-American Wind Technology noted, “The U.S. wind industry has slowed,
largely due to the uncertainty surrounding the federal Production Tax Credit
extension at the end of 2012.”

Vestas is struggling to return to
profitability after losing money in 2011 and in the first two quarters of this
year, according to Bloomberg News. It’s said it may cut an additional 1,600
U.S. jobs if lawmakers don’t renew the credit, which expires at the end of the
year. The credit gives an incentive of 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour for wind
power.

Another wind power equipment
manufacturer also recently announced layoffs precipitated by the tax credit. Siemens Wind Power laid off
more than 600 workers
at plants in three states.

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