Vestas breaks ground in Brighton

By Kevin Denke
Posted 4/7/09

   BRIGHTON — The small convoy of black Chevy suburbans quickly wound its way past police officers March 25 toward a large, multi-peaked white tent, not unlike the familiar Teflon …

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Vestas breaks ground in Brighton


   BRIGHTON — The small convoy of black Chevy suburbans quickly wound its way past police officers March 25 toward a large, multi-peaked white tent, not unlike the familiar Teflon roof of the Denver International Airport terminal.

    When the lead suburban rolled to a halt near a waiting throng of local and international media members, the doors quickly popped open. On one side, Danish Crown Prince Frederik, still hobbled from an injury sustained during a family vacation in Switzerland, climbed out of the vehicle with the assistance of crutches. On the opposite side, his wife, Danish Crown Princess Mary, warmly exchanged greetings with waiting guests before the royal couple disappeared beneath an ancillary white tent.

    The sight of Danish royalty gathering on this former farmland on Weld County Road 6 is what made this day different. But, when Prince Frederik appeared inside the large tent about 10 minutes later to speak to about 100 people on hand for the official Vestas production facility groundbreaking, the emphasis was not on what made Denmark and the United States, namely Colorado, different. but rather, the same.

    “Opening a manufacturing plant is, unfortunately, not very common these days,” he said. “But, while companies are struggling in these economic times, companies in the wind industry seem to be thriving.”

    Frederik pointed out Denmark, now known for harnessing renewable energies, found its own energy success during an oil shortage caused recession in the ‘70s. He said that caused the country to diversify its energy sources and place a bigger emphasis on renewable energies.

    “Today, we’re one of the most energy efficient countries in the world,” the prince said.

    He pointed out, since 1980, the country’s energy economy has grown by nearly 80 percent while their energy consumption has not increased.

    While Vestas made the decision to bring its newest production facilities to the Brighton area nearly a year ago, Frederik’s words seemed fitting with Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s emphasis on Colorado establishing a new energy economy now being echoed on a federal level by President Obama and his administration.

    “Denmark very much has a template for the things that can be done to reconstruct your energy future and, in doing so, reduce your emissions,” Ritter said. “We assure you that, here in Colorado, we have looked at your examples and we know you’re leading by example.”

    Ritter called the ceremony and Vestas new construction “a bright spot” in difficult economic times. The company already has a facility in Windsor and plans to build a factory in Pueblo as well.

    “The new energy economy isn’t just a word or a group of words, it’s not a slogan,” the governor said. “It’s an idea that you can create a different energy future and you can create jobs at the same time.”

    He praised Vestas for embracing that idea with their commitment to Colorado.

    With royalty on hand, the ceremony was also a chance for pomp. Brighton City Councilors unveiled a road sign renaming the portion of Weld County Road 6 on the north side of the Vestas campus as Crown Prince Boulevard. Brighton Mayor Jan Pawlowski read a proclamation designating March 25, 2009 as “Vestas Day” in the city of Brighton.

    After the prepared speeches, the royal couple stepped back outside the tent – a cadre of media members including some Danish news agencies in tow – and took part in a customary tossing of dirt in a sandbox built just for the event. Construction on the 265,000-square-foot blades factory started late last year and parts of the massive white-walled structure are already enclosed. Construction on the 360,000-square-foot nacelle assembly factory at the southwest corner of the 175-acre lot is in the beginning stages.

    Vestas plans to eventually employ more than 1,300 people at the two plants when they become fully operational in 2010.

     The appearance by the Danish royal couple coincided with a weeklong visit to the United States where they also christened an ethanol enzyme plant, built by a Danish company, near Blair, Neb.


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