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With New Blade Design, Vestas Picks Up Speed

Nathan Heffel

Wind-turbine manufacturer Vestas unveiled three prototype blades at their Brighton factory Wednesday. They’re the longest ever manufactured by the U.S. wind industry.

The new prototype blades are each over half a football field long at 189 feet in length.

In comparison, current Vestas blades for their V112 turbines are just over 180 feet.

Credit Nathan Heffel / KUNC
The new prototype blade is over half a football field in length. It travels from Brighton to Denmark, via Houston for testing.

Vestas Vice President Bjarne Sandager Nielsen says the blades are a milestone not just for the company, but for the Brighton plant since they’re the first new blades ever produced in the U.S.

“The Brighton factory is our newest factory, we have a state of the art set up,” said Nielsen. “And we had some dedicated people who had the capacity to take on this development task. We see it as an important blade for the US market as well.”

Nielsen adds the process to design the new blades began during the company’s 2012 fourth quarter. Since the Brighton facility has everything needed to produce the new design, production will be very easy. The blades will now be shipped via Houston to Denmark for testing.

Vestas has been in a precarious position in Colorado as a delay in the reauthorization of the Wind Tax Credit slowed the industry and orders dried up. In February, Vestas remained confident about future orders, while announcing staff reductions at their Windsor and Brighton plants.

Nielsen says although the industry remains rocky in the U.S., recent international orders have allowed production to ramp up in Colorado. “We are also sending blades from here to Canada, we are sending blades to Central America and we are also, in some cases, sending the blades to Europe,” said Nielsen.

Vestas operates four manufacturing facilities in Colorado employing more than 1,100 people. Nielsen says that number should hold, or could increase depending on future customer demand. In January, the company announced the hiring of more than 100 workers at their Pueblo tower plant as part of a two-year agreement. The company says it’s also considering selling its Pueblo tower plant, the only one the company owns, to a third party in the future.

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