Company Offers Wind Training to Coal Miners

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black and white photo of coal miner with mustach and mining helmet on

While unemployment lingers for hundreds of laid-off coal miners, new hope springs forth in the form of wind – the American branch of Goldwind, a Chinese wind turbine maker. The company, according to the New York Times, has created a free program for the miners, promising to retrain them to become wind farm technicians – which is said to be one of the fastest-growing jobs in the nation. The program will also target professionals from other industries.

The program, called “Goldwind Works,” begins next month, starting with a series of informational and safety-related meetings. David Halligan, Chief Executive for Goldwind Americas, explains that coal workers possess easily transferable experience relevant to the field of wind energy, including mechanical and electrical aptitude. Halligan also shares that, “If we can tap into that market and also help out folks that might be experiencing some challenges in the workforce today, I think that it can be a win-win situation.” He adds a bit of caution, however, that the working conditions may not be suitable for everyone. For example, he mentions, “If you’re a wind technician, you obviously can’t be afraid of heights.”

Although Wyoming is the highest coal-producing state in the country, and the only state that currently taxes wind energy generation, it also possesses excellent on-shore wind resources, as wind power in the state comprises 8 percent of their current energy provisions. Robert Godby, who heads the University of Wyoming’s Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy, is hopeful the training will shift some mindsets since the state has plenty of wind, a trait that has been attractive to developers. He also admits, however, that the program most likely won’t make up for all the losses in coal considering the range of jobs impacted with the supply chain from handling materials all the way to transport.

Although Halligan indicates current Goldwind plans don’t include manufacturing in the state, they can still anticipate providing thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of full-time jobs in operations or providing support. Goldwind’s website shares a list of currently available positions and benefits offered to employees, including competitive salaries, a headquarters in Chicago’s Loop, 401 (k), paid time off, and 100% medical and dental premium coverage for employees’ families. They encourage those interested in jobs or student internships to email resumes to careers@goldwindamerica.com.

Goldwind hopes to pilot this program in Wyoming and eventually bring similar endeavors to other states – namely Texas, where it also supplies turbines. With a website that boasts innovations including over “26 GW of installed wind power capacity worldwide and approximately 19,000 wind turbine units running in 17 countries on six continents,” one can imagine such goals as possible.

Kristen lives in the Michiana area, where she enjoys lake-effect weather, apple orchards and occasional South Shore rides into Chicago. She can probably tell you more about apple cider vinegar than you'd ever want to know. You can reach her at: http://lakesedge.wix.com/lakesidewriting

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