Work on wind turbine plant begins | VailDaily.com

Work on wind turbine plant begins

Steven K. Paulson
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

WINDSOR ” Gov. Bill Ritter helped break ground Thursday for a plant that will manufacture the huge blades for wind turbines, jump-starting what the governor hopes will be an economic engine centered on renewable energy.

The 200,000-square-foot plant being built by Vestas will provide 460 jobs by the time it goes into full production next year.

The $62 million plant is expected to produce four blades a day, enough for 1,200 turbines a year that could power 225,000 households. The 120-foot-long blades each weigh about 8 tons and spin up to 120 mph at the end of the blades.

Company officials said they chose Colorado because it has ample wind, but also because it was central within the United States and close to rail lines that can ship across the country.

The company, based in Denmark, has already built 32,000 turbines around the world, including 9,400 in Canada and the United States.

Ritter said having a plant in Colorado that builds the turbines will help the state attract more companies like FPL Energy, which recently started work on a new wind farm near Peetz.

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The Peetz wind farm, which will be the second-largest in the nation, will have 267 General Electric turbines generating 400 megawatts, or enough to power 120,000 homes.

“Our vision for this state is that we will be a renewable energy leader,” Ritter said.

Ritter said he wants to make Colorado the renewable energy capital of the nation. He wants the jobs that are providing the infrastructure, but he also wants the state to develop and help market the technology.

In April, he attended a groundbreaking for a $60 million solar power plant in the San Luis Valley, 160 miles south of Denver.

That plant and Logan County’s new wind farm will help utilities meet Colorado’s mandate that they obtain at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Voters originally set the standard at 10 percent and state lawmakers doubled the percentage this year.

The state has a lot of competition. Other states, including Texas, Washington and California have also made renewable energy a key part of their economic development.

Windsor Mayor Ed Stark said the plant will help provide jobs for the region’s farmers, who have been struggling through four years of severe drought.

He said Windsor is changing and now has seven major industries, including Kodak and Owens-Illinois, which makes bottles for beer companies.

“We’re moving from agriculture to a more industrial-type economy. This is good for our economy. Other communities would like to have even one,” he said.