The wind power industry is looking for a few good people to work as wind technicians, through an Energy Department job training program aimed at military veterans. Wind technician is a rather dry term to describe an occupation that entails traveling around the country to work at dizzying heights outdoors in all kinds of weather, and that goes a long way to explain why it takes the right stuff to fill those shoes.
Turbine Cowboys and Military Training
Just this year, the Weather Channel featured wind technicians – aka “turbine cowboys” – in a new series on extreme occupations, and if you check out some of the comments in the production company’s Facebook page it’s pretty clear that military training is a good preparation for this kind of work.
According to one comment (typos corrected):
“To say they are not dangerous is ignorant. The amount of safety classes, first aid and rescue training, OSHA certs, ect. is never ending. I work on turbines every day and find new risks every day. I’m constantly reminded of how a simple slip at any point in my day can harm/kill myself or a co-worker.”
Service in an active combat zone is not a prerequisite, as day-to-day safety in many military occupations requires a certain degree of physical stamina and a state of alertness to potential hazards.
Training for Wind Power
The Department of Energy has focused on the training aspect of the work, one example being a 2010 veterans’ workforce development grant to a California wind turbine servicing company called Gemini Energy Services, in support of the company’s training courses.
Gemini is one wind services company that recognizes the value of a military background as preparation for a successful (and safe) career in the industry, so much so that it features veteran hiring practices as a promotional tool.
As stated on the company’s home page:
“Our unique workforce of turbine technicians is primarily comprised of former military professionals who have the proven background, training and tools and have received wind-specific training to excel in the wind industry.”
The Wind Industry is Still Hiring
Speaking of Gemini’s home page, the company apparently is still hiring, despite the industry-wide uncertainty over continued federal support for the wind sector. Specifically, it is “looking for experienced Traveling Field Technicians with a track record of success.”
President Obama has been a staunch supporter of tax credits for wind and other alternative energy, but without action from Congress all he can do is – well – show support (that’s called “separation of powers”).
The action end of the equation has to come from Congress, which has been dithering over extending a vital federal tax credit for the wind industry.
Perhaps some of those legislators who are so fond of blowing the “support our troops” horn could put their words into action by supporting an industry that is aggressively seeking to hire veterans.
Or perhaps not, as the case may be.
For more information on Gemini’s current hiring, check out their Careers page.
Image: Claudia Trevizo via energy.gov.
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.