Pueblo Feeling Impact of Political Gridlock as Vestas Cuts Workforce — 30 More Lose Jobs at Brighton Plant
Getting Vestas to build its wind tower plant south of Pueblo required a generous recruitment package of $31.8 million in federal, state and local grants and tax waivers, including $11 million from Pueblo’s half-cent sales tax fund for economic development.
By Peter Roper/Pueblo Chieftan
That was back in 2008 and at the time, the Danish-based wind power company was the biggest trophy the Pueblo Economic Development Corp. had ever captured. The 450 jobs that Vestas agreed to create at the Pueblo plant would be well-paid and geared toward a growing market in renewable energy.
Even then, however, Pueblo’s economic recruiting team understood that Vestas’ future depended on a federal tax credit for turbine purchasers, a tax credit that was 14 years old at the time. That credit will lapse on Jan. 1 unless Congress extends it and Vestas — as it has warned all year — began laying off workers at the Pueblo plant this week in anticipation of a slump in orders.
“We understood that Vestas depended on that tax credit,” said Keith Swerdfeger, who was PEDCo president during the long negotiations with Vestas. “But Colorado was creating its own requirement that 30 percent of all future power had to come from renewable energy, so we thought Vestas would be here to help fill that market, too.” MORE …