The Danish company Vestas Wind Systems is closing three of its US-based R&D offices: in Louisville, Colo., Marlborough, Mass., and Houston, Texas.The closures come just a month after the company said it would consolidate its US R&D operations to its offices in Brighton, Colo. The closures will include layoffs for about 85 of Vestas’ 2,600 workers in North America. The office closures will be complete by the end of the second quarter in 2013. Vestas will continue R&D operations at its US headquarters in Portland, Ore.
The wind energy business is uncertain due to looming expiration of a wind production tax credit first signed into law in 1992. The credit gives owners of wind farms a 2.2 cents-per-kilowatt credit on their US income taxes annually for the first 10 years of the farm’s existence. The credit has been extended in past years, but is set to expire at the end of 2012. The uncertainty about the federal Production Tax Credit extension is causing a reduction in turbine orders for 2013.
Asked if some of the contraction in wind energy is related to competition from natural gas, Vestas company spokesman Andrew Longeteig, said, “The layoffs in R&D are not directly related to low gas prices. However it’s fair to say it’s a factor in the general contraction of Vestas in 2012.”
The company also closed R&D locations this year in China, Denmark and Singapore, and reduced its R&D employee base by about 20 percent compared with 2011. Vestas will continue to operate six research and development locations around the world.