Friday, August 15, 2008

Ritter, Vestas Announce Factory Expansion

Gov. Bill Ritter and Economic Development Director Don Elliman announced today that Denmark-based Vestas will significantly expand its Colorado operations by building two new manufacturing plants in Brighton.

The wind-blade production plant and nacelle assembly factory represent a $290 million capital investment and will bring 1,350 new jobs to Colorado.

“This expansion reinforces Colorado’s standing as a national and international leader in clean, modern energy for the future,” Ritter said. “It puts an exclamation point on our efforts to build a New Energy Economy that adds jobs, takes advantage of Colorado’s incredible intellectual capital, secures our energy future and helps end our dependence on foreign oil.”

Vestas opened its first North American manufacturing plant in Windsor earlier this year. The 650-employee facility will produce 1,800 giant wind blades a year.

The new Brighton facilities, which should be operational by July 1, 2010, will include a $180 million blade-manufacturing plant that will produce 1,800 blades a year and provide 650 new jobs, a $110 million nacelle assembly factory that will produce 1,400 nacelles a year and provide 700 new jobs, and a technology and production engineering office.

Nacelles are the turbine housing units that sit atop the tower and contain key components like the gearbox, generator and transformer. This will be Vestas’ largest nacelle assembly factory in the world.

The 178-acre site is located in unincorporated Weld County and will be annexed into Brighton. Vestas is purchasing 112 acres from Brighton and 66 acres from RTD, which obtained the land from the Union Pacific Railroad.

In addition, Vestas intends to build the world’s largest tower-manufacturing facility elsewhere in Colorado; the exact location has not yet been announced.

All told, Vestas’ entire commitment to Colorado represents a nearly $700 million capital investment and 2,450 new jobs.

“This is a tremendous boon for all of Colorado,” Ritter said. “It adds momentum to our push to diversify our energy portfolio and build a 21st century economy based on industries of the future. What we are doing here in Colorado can and should serve as a model for the rest of the country.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

GOP Legislators Attack Salazar's Stand on Energy Development

Several GOP state legislators attacked U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar's positions on energy development on federal lands yesterday, calling on him to be more accommodating to Bush Administration plans for more drilling on the western slope and off U.S. coasts.

Salazar has been a vocal critic of those administration plans, calling on the Departments of Interior and Agriculture, who manage federal lands, to be give more consideration of environmental impacts and to give less weight to gas prices at the pump.

"Ken Salazar has missed a golden opportunity to become Colorado's quarterback for common sense energy policy," Sen. Mike Kopp, R-Littleton, said. "He could be genuinely helping families meet their budgets for gas and utility bills, but I guess he would rather be a punter than a quarterback."

Salazar has opposed development on Colorado’s Roan Plateau and the Vermillion Basin. He has also opposed allowing environmental rules to be established so the feasibility of commercial oil shale production can be determined.

The Republicans' criticism of Colorado's junior senator was included in a letter sent to Salazar Wednesday by, among others, Kopp, senate minority leader Andy McElhany of Colorado Springs, and senate assistant minority leader Nancy Spence of Centennial.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Centennial State's Tuskegee Airmen Honored with New Highway Markers

Colorado veterans of the famed World War II Tuskegee Airmen were honored for their service today as new signs for the "Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway" were displayed for the first time by Gov. Bill Ritter, Colorado Department of Transportation executive director Russell George and sponsors of the bill that designated the new memorial highway.

Surrounded by uniforms and memorabilia at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library, House Assistant Majority Leader Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, unveiled the signs that honor the civil rights pioneers who helped make the unit of African-American pilots and crew members legendary.

"We talk a lot about our World War II veterans. We talk a lot about our heroes. But I can't think of any truer heroes," Carroll said, according to an article in the Rocky Mountain News. "They fought for this country when this country wouldn't fight for them."

From 1941 through 1946, over 990 African-American pilots earned their wings at Alabama's Tuskegee Army Air Field, receiving commissions and pilot wings. Black navigators, bombardiers and gunnery crews were trained elsewhere in the country. Four hundred fifty of the pilots served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.

Colorado becomes the second state in the union to honor its Tuskegee Airmen veterans with a highway memorial.

The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway is designated along I-70 between Brighton Boulevard and Tower Road.

Carroll was the house sponsor of the resolution designating the Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Denver Post Files Lawsuit Aimed at Obtaining Guv's Personal Cell Call Records

The Denver Post has filed a lawsuit aimed at forcing Gov. Bill Ritter to turn over his personal cell phone bills.

Ritter, who has turned over records of calls made on his state-issued Blackberry cell phone, has declined to make public records of calls made on the cell phone that he pays for with his own money.

According to a report posted on the Post's website today, the paper's complaint alleges that
"It is obvious that if any high-ranking government executive may 'privatize' his conduct of public business by establishing a private account or dealing with private providers of communications technologies, it would allow government officials to unilaterally create a vast and unacceptable 'loophole' in the [Open Records Act's] requirements."

The Post has not said why they wish to see the bills for Ritter's personal cell phone account.

The lawsuit was filed in Denver District Court.