Colorado Corporate Moves

Vestas Opens World’s Largest Wind Tower Plant in Pueblo

Vestas Towers America, Inc. recently held the grand opening of what it says is the world’s largest wind tower manufacturing plant.

The new Pueblo, CO facility features nearly 13 million square feet of space and eight miles of on-site railway tracks for the transport of materials and finished tower components.

The opening of Vestas Towers gives Vestas, a global leader in wind turbine production, a substantial capability to address growing needs among North American wind power plants for reliable, high performance wind turbines. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar joined a host of regional and local Colorado dignitaries, as well as Vestas Towers President Knud Bjarne Hansen and Vestas Americas President Martha Wyrsch, during a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Participants at the grand opening ceremony recognized a factory that currently employs more than 400 workers and is capable, at peak production, of producing 1,090 towers per year. The event also kicked off Secretary Salazar’s national renewable energy tour, which spans Colorado, Nevada and California.

The steel industry has and will continue to play a large role in Pueblo’s identity, but as seen here today, the renewable energy industry is carving its own path into the city and state’s history, said Secretary Salazar. Colorado is committed to the development of a clean energy economy, and I applaud Vestas for recognizing the potential of Colorado’s landscape and workforce.

Vestas Towers America, Inc. has the ability to process more than 200,000 tons of steel per year— enough to build two bridges the size of the Golden Gate every year, or the equivalent of 28 Eiffel Towers.

Locating the factory along major highway and railroad lines provides Vestas with the ability to meet customers’ needs with locally managed logistical efficiencies, which translates directly to cost and environmental benefits.

“We are extremely pleased to simultaneously provide job opportunities for the local community and outstanding product for our customers made right here in Colorado,” said Hansen. “We have deliberately located our factories in a central region in the U.S.– including our towers, nacelles and blades plants—because regional centralization allows Vestas to build and ship locally in any direction needed in North America, and that translated to a direct competitive advantage for all of our stakeholders.”

In the past few months, Vestas Towers America, Inc., has been actively recruiting and hiring people who are skilled in a range of desirable jobs ranging from engineering to human resources and from welding to painting. The company has attended numerous local job fairs in over the summer seeking highly skilled employees who have been turned loose from other industries, such as the industrial products and construction fields.

“We’ve hired people in a number of functions related to tower building, including steel fabricators, finishers, welders, assemblers and maintenance personnel,” said Anthony J. Knopp, vice president, Vestas Towers America, Inc. “It is amazing how many traditional manufacturing job skills are directly transferable to Vestas. This translates to a win-win for our company and the people who live in this region.”

Vestas, the world leader in producing high-tech wind power systems, has supplied more than 40,500 turbines globally since 1979. Vestas sold its first wind turbine in North America in 1981 and since has supplied more than 11,000 turbines to the United States and Canada.

The company’s North American manufacturing operations are based in Colorado, including a blade factory in Windsor, a nacelle factory in Brighton and a tower factory—the world’s largest—in Pueblo. Sales and service operations are based in Portland, Ore. Vestas has research and development offices in Texas, Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Colorado.

Solar Roast Plans New Distribution/Wholesale Center

With assistance from the Pueblo City Council, coffee retailer Solar Roast, which owns several retail locations in Pueblo, has announced it will move its roasting operation and a new wholesale and distribution division to a new facility in the city’s downtown.

According to owner Mike Hartkop, Solar Roast Coffee will be the only direct-use solar-thermal industry of its kind in the world.

Negotiations are underway to acquire an existing building in the downtown area. The City of Pueblo and the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation (PEDCO) are assisting the company in their expansion efforts.

The city is providing financial support to assist the company with equipment purchases for its newest coffee roaster. The company may also be eligible for Enterprise Zone tax credits which are administered through Pueblo County. Dan Centa, PEDCO president, stated that it is always important for PEDCO to not only work to attract new companies to Pueblo but to support the expansion of primary jobs through the support of local companies.

“Working with small business and in particular Mike and Dave at Solar Roast has been great and PEDCO is proud to support their entrepreneurial spirit and their willingness to commit to creating new jobs for the Pueblo community,” he said.

Weld County Approves Niobrara Energy Park

On March 16, Weld County Commissioners unanimously approved Harrison Resource Corporation’s plans for development of Niobrara Energy Park, a 640-acre project that will integrate natural gas and renewable energy generation facilities, including solar and wind energy, with data centers and energy research. With zoning approvals in place, the greenfield project is now process-shove-ready.

Commissioner Dave Long said of the park, “I’ve said in the past that Weld County is the energy center of Colorado, but this may make Weld County the energy center of the West, if not the nation.” Niobrara Energy Park has received widespread support from researchers, government officials, and many others in the energy industry, including Dag Nummedal, director of the Colorado Energy Research Institute at the Colorado School of Mines, and David Hiller, executive director of the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory. Nummedal stated in a letter of support, “Your proposed energy park could become a national center of learning in how to best manage the hybrid fossil plus renewable energy infrastructure.” He added that the park concept “moves beyond anything planned elsewhere in the U.S.” due to its planned onsite energy storage facilities.

“Our next step is working with the various companies, institutions, and other organizations that have expressed enthusiasm for Niobrara Energy Park,” said Craig Harrison, president of Harrison Resource. “This area of Colorado is already home to numerous clean energy initiatives, projects, and businesses, and we are excited to plan one of the country’s first hybrid energy parks here.”

Niobrara Energy Park will use on and offsite renewable energy and clean natural gas from the Niobrara, one of the hottest oil and gas shale areas in the country. The park will have a research facility for scientists, engineers, institutions, and others to research energy systems integration, renewable energy, smart grid, and energy storage. The proposal also includes plans for a gas gathering and processing facility, a gas-fired electric power plant, a 200-acre solar farm, and a mega data center, which would take advantage of the energy park’s remote location and natural cooling during certain times of the year.

“Niobrara Energy Park is situated in the perfect location, strategically between gas and electric hubs, allowing for stabilization of grid energy and peak demands,” said Harrison. “Upstream from the park is the Cheyenne hub, which delivers five to seven percent of the daily flow of gas in America, as well as intermittent alternative energy sources, including hydro and wind. Downstream from the park, we have the largest electric trading hub in Colorado. By combining alternative energy generation and a new alternative and clean fossil electricity, along with the connection to the adjoining national fiber highway, this is the ideal site for a mega data center of national importance.” Altogether, the park has more than 40 zoning-approved energy land uses, Harrison added. “It will be interesting to watch the evolution of the park. I’m very excited to bring such an important and historic center to Colorado,” he said.

Space Ops Center Makes Denver Gateway to the Stars

Lockheed Martin recently unveiled the first Orion spacecraft and a state-of-the-art Space Operations Simulation Center (SOSC). These two major projects, located at Lockheed Martin’s Waterton Facility near Denver, CO, showcase the NASA-industry teams’ progress for human space flight, the Orion Project and NASA’s Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.

The spacecraft will undergo rigorous testing in Denver to validate Orion’s ability to endure the harsh environments of deep space. The Orion crew exploration vehicle is on schedule to conduct its first orbital flight test as early as 2013 and provide initial operational flights by 2016 as required by the NASA Authorization Act of 2010.

“Our nation’s next bold step in exploration could begin by 2016,” said John Karas, vice president and general manager for Lockheed Martin’s Human Space Flight programs. “Orion was designed from inception to fly multiple, deep-space missions. The spacecraft is an incredibly robust, technically advanced vehicle capable of safely transporting humans to asteroids, Lagrange Points and other deep space destinations that will put us on an affordable and sustainable path to Mars.”

The SOSC represents part of Lockheed Martin’s multi-million dollar investment in testing and validating future human spaceflight programs to ensure safe, affordable and sustainable space exploration. Today’s demonstrations at the SOSC featured simulated missions to an asteroid and the International Space Station using laser and optically guided robotic navigation systems. This system and other cutting edge capabilities demonstrate how Lockheed Martin employs full-scale motion to test and verify multiple mission scenarios.

The SOSC currently supports integrated testing of Orion’s Relative Navigation System, which includes STORRM (Sensor Test for Orion RelNav Risk Mitigation)—a new and innovative navigation and docking system that will be tested on the upcoming STS-134 shuttle mission to the International Space Station. STORRM is one of the major subsystem tests that will be completed before Orion’s first orbital flight test in 2013, that will conduct high-altitude orbits and a high-energy reentry that simulate the environments of a deep space mission.

SOSC operations support critical development, evaluation and testing necessary to ensure safe, successful human and robotic missions to Earth-orbiting platforms, planets, moons or other bodies in our solar system. In addition, the center tests ranging, rendezvous, docking, proximity operations, imaging, descent and landing systems.

“Lockheed Martin built this remarkable facility to develop and test spacecraft systems, further demonstrating our commitment to improve safety and advance capabilities for future U.S. human spaceflight,” said Karas.

The SOSC is built upon a 1,700-foot-deep Colorado bedrock formation and is isolated from local seismic disturbances. This foundation provides an ultra-stable environment for testing precision instruments and accurate navigation systems needed for space vehicles. The 41,000-square-foot facility also holds a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Gold rating for its high efficiency environmental controls, energy-saving lighting systems, and native vegetation landscaping.