While fracking is dominating the political conversation, the wind power industry is quietly on the rise. Vestas, the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturer, is seeing a growing surge in orders and is hiring more workers to meet the demand. The company is announcing 800 new hires in Colorado of a planned 1,500 new jobs this year. Vestas has four factories in Colorado and will employ 2,800 people in the state by the end of the year. According to the Vestas website, the total year-to-date announced order intake was 2,704 megawatts.
“We have received U.S. orders of 740 MW in the last month alone, so our North American factories are very busy, as are factories overseas,” Vestas spokesman Adam Serchuk told ThinkProgress. “As far as I can see this will be the case at least through the end of 2015.”
Wind power, in addition to adding jobs to the economy, also has many other benefits. According to the Interwest Energy Alliance, Colorado farmers, ranchers and other landowners receive upwards of $7.5 million by hosting wind projects on their land while communities also gain benefits from a broader tax base. Wind farms pay out millions a year in taxes which pays for roads, schools, and other critical public projects.
Despite being on the rise, the industry has suffered setbacks in recent years. Investment in domestic wind energy projects was low the last couple years, as Congress has failed to consistently renew the 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour Production Tax Credit (PTC). In early 2013, Vestas was forced to lay off hundreds of workers in Colorado due to this inconsistency, and the company continues to monitor developments closely as details for future incentives are being hashed out. Spokesman Adam Serchuk said they are optimistic everything with the PTC will be sorted out.
“As every company must remain adaptable, we may adjust if the market environment significantly changes, but the recent number of large orders in the U.S. and elsewhere is a good indication that demand for our products is robust.”