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Vestas lays off 450 worker in consolidation as demand slackens for wind turbines

The takeaway of the Vestas layoffs in Colorado is that the green economy has its ups and downs, too.

The Danish wind manufacturer in mid-February laid off 450 workers from its manufacturing plants in Colorado at Pueblo, Windsor, and Brighton and closed entirely a third factory at Brighton.

All the components of wind turbines have been manufactured at the four Vestas factories in Colorado. A second factory at Brighton produces nacelles, which houses the drive train of a wind turbine and other tower-top components.

The Pueblo factory, where towers are manufactured, lost 120 workers, down from a peak of 800, reported the Pueblo Chieftain. The closed factory at Brighton had 280 employees.

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The Pueblo Chieftain reported that Vestas consolidated its manufacture of blades at its Windsor factory. The Brighton factory, which also made blades, will be repurposed to become the North American headquarters for the Vestas Global Tooling business. It is currently spread across six locations.

An economic development official in Brighton told the local newspaper, the Standard Blade (the newspaper’s name preceded the arrival of Vestas about a decade ago) that Vestas was expecting a slow-down in the market for new blades and wind turbines but adding resources to maintain what already exists.

Responding to questions by Pueblo’s KRDO, Vestas attributes the layoffs to lowered near-term market demand  to the caused by the ramping down of the production tax credit, which was at 100% through 2020 but now ratchets down—unless Congress decides to ramp it up again as part of the Biden climate agenda.

Boebert says renewables not ready for prime time

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, speaking to oil and gas advocates and others in Grand Junction, laid the blame for the failure of the power grid in Texas on renewable energy.

“I am pushing for reliable energy, and if renewable comes to the point where they are reliable, sustainable and affordable without government getting in the way and choosing winners and losers with their subsidies, then I’ll absolutely promote them,” Boebert said, according to an account in the Grand Junction Sentinel.

“We aren’t to the point where we can get away from petroleum products. We’re not to the point where renewables can sustain our way of living,” she said.

Renewables have enjoyed subsidies in the form of the tax credits for wind and solar, but there’s a large body of evidence about the subsidies for fossil fuels.

“Instead of taxing fossil fuels for the harms they cause, significant subsidies remain in the United States and globally,” writes Leah Cardamore Stokes, in her new book, “Short Circuiting Policy. “Fossil fuel subsidies are forecast to increase from $2.2 billion in 2018 to $3.8 billion by 2028,” she says, citing a 2019 report from the Congressional Research Service.

Garfield commissioners oppose Biden climate plan

Garfield County’s Board of commissioner has filed opposition to the proposal by President Joe Biden to conserve 30% of the nation’s land and water by 2030 as part of his plan to address climate change.

“The 30X30 program, if implemented, is likely to cause significant harm to the economy of Garfield County and injure the county’s businesses and its citizens by depriving them of access to public land and preventing the productive use of these lands’ resources,” the resolution reads.

The Glenwood Springs Post Independent notes that more than 62% of the county consists of federal lands, where resource development and other uses are strictly controlled.

“I like to use our public lands, and I respect them, but this action taken by the president …, is an end run that ignores federal law and policies already in place,” Commissioner John Martin said.

Climate change is not just the future. It’s here and now.

Gunnison County looking at buildings, transportation as way to trim emissions

Buildings account for 61% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado’s Gunnison County, with the residential sector having four times the square footage of the commercial sector.

How can the county ratchet down its energy use in those buildings?

The Crested Butte News reports that John Cattles, the county’s sustainability coordinator, told county commissioners recently that the first effort was made within county buildings.

“There is a lot of work we can do on buildings,” he said. “There is the most opportunity on buildings.”

For example, the upcoming airport renovations and the new Gunnison library will use fully electric heat pump systems combined with on-site solar production with the goal of eliminating need for natural gas.

Transportation is the second largest source of emissions, and that has been growing, the result of more commuting between Gunnison and Crested Butte. Vehicle miles traveled per capita in Gunnison County are 26.3 miles per person per day, compared to the Colorado average of 24.

Trio of electric buses largely met expectations in heart of Summit County’s winter

Three Proterra electric buses were added to the fleet of Summit Stage in October, and so far they have largely met expectations, Summit County Transit Director Chris Lubbers tells the Summit Daily News.

“We have found that they do perform well,” Lubbers said. “They’re quiet, and so far, the heating isn’t a problem in the extreme temperatures that we’ve endured recently,” he said. “Obviously, the range of electric buses hasn’t matched the range of diesel buses. We knew that going in…. We have found them effective and to work well on multiple routes.”

The buses will soon be used on routes to Fairplay and Leadville, in both cases requiring travel across passes of more than 11,000 feet.

The buses can run for 5 or 6 hours before batteries have depleted to around 30% and they need to be recharged. By comparison, diesel buses have auxiliary tanks that allow the buses to run for about 17 hours.

The buses cost $875,000 each, compared to $470,000 for diesel buses, plus $40,000 for charging infrastructure.

Michael Wurzel, the sustainability coordinator for Summit County, said the diesel buses get about 4 to 5 miles a gallon, That equates to 80 to 100 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile.

Polis should emulate Biden, says WildEarth’s Nichols

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis should emulate President Joe Biden when it comes to land policy and oil and gas leasing.

So says Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians.

“Under his watch, Colorado continues to approve massive amounts of new fossil fuel production, which will only lead to more fossil fuel consumption and more climate pollution,” wrote Nichols in a column published in the Pueblo Chieftain.

The State Land Board plans to auction more than 100,000 acres of lands of oil and gas extraction, mostly in southeastern Colorado. And the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission “continues to rubberstamp more oil and gas drilling permits with no consideration of climate consequences.”

Allen Best
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