Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wind energy creating jobs

The proliferation of wind turbines in western Iowa means more than just fast-money leases for farmers.

Turbines, now fencing the northern part of Carroll, and rising majestically along U.S. 30 and U.S. 20 for vast stretches in this part of the state, are a source for new careers.

So says Des Moines Area Community College which offers an “Introduction to Wind Energy” course.

The course, which was implemented this past semester at Carroll, is also now being offered on the Newton campus.

“There is a great demand for wind energy jobs right now,” said Scott Ocken, dean of DMACC’s industry and technology department. “Last year, the wind energy industry grew by 45 percent. As a result, the industry is seeking people who can build, operate and maintain these giant wind turbines, so our students who participate in this program have a very bright future.”

Ocken says that the starting salary is generally in the 40s and will increase rapidly with experience. “Wind energy represents green jobs that our state, nation and the energy industry are committed to expanding,” he said.

DMACC’s wind emphasis is part of the college’s industrial electro-mechanical technology program and, in just two years, a student can earn an associate of applied sciences degree and be ready for wind energy jobs.


Anonymous said...

Wind energy may produce jobs for the manufacturers of the generators, but the construction jobs are gone in a heartbeat and maintenance jobs are few. The generators produce precious little energy for such a tremendous cost. They pose new health hazards for those who live near them. Check out the problems with "flicker" (especially for those with neurological disorders like migraines or epilpsy which are triggered by flashing light)

and noise:
when they are built too near homes and communities. There are also problems with "ice throw":

Have we done enough research on these things? They are awfully close to some people's houses throughout Carroll County. What are they going through?

Just listen to this video about how the company that manufactures these got the government to help them hit the electric companies (in their own words) "over the head with a baseball bat" to go along with them:
Is that any way to do business?

Todd Spink said...

I was going to post regarding how jobs in wind are not expanding as fast as the headlines would like us to believe – I just got laid off – but after reading the previous post, well, there are just those who can do nothing but throw rocks at wind energy with poorly established facts. Lets see, lots of jobs for the manufacturers? Hmmm, not really. When I was laid off, 58 plant employees were laid off – pretty much all of them. The plant is a ghost town, right now. Construction jobs gone in a heartbeat? Well, that’s my job, building wind turbines, or at least managing the site. The last project I was on had well over 300 employees, employed by 8 companies. This does not include a host of logistic companies, with a small army of employees needed to move the pieces to and from ships, trains, and trucks and move them to their respective sites. These jobs will move from site to site. If you are a good millwright assembling wind towers, primary contractors want to keep you around. Yeah, when the commissioning is done and the keys are handed over to the owner, there will be about 20-30 full time employees being paid average to above national average salaries. This is money brought into a community from outside, which will increase the amount of money in a community significantly (as an economist, I could go on and explain why this is critical for the continued growth of a community, but that is another story). The generators produce precious little, huh? Hmm. I live in the city of Ames. As I remember, the two COAL burning steam turbines operational here at our power plant are unit 7 of 68 MW, and unit 8 of 73 MW, for a total of 141 MW. This is the sole source of power, barring failures in the system, for the 50,000 people of Ames. A wind project of 100 turbines that are 1.5 MW machines (currently the standard). At full output (only 20 mph wind required for most to reach full potential), this would be 150 MW. The last 3 projects I’ve been a part of have been, 120 machines, 140 machines, and 82 machines. Just how much do these machines produce? Check your electric bill at the end of the month. I bet you’ll find that you consumed about 600-1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh). Lets say your bill is 750 kWh. This means that a 1500 kW machine – or 1.5 MW – at full potential will generate all the power you will consume in ½ hour. Precious little? And you didn’t burn any coal, oil, gas, or trash to get it. Flashing lights? Less than half the machines usually have FAA lights installed. And if flashing lights are such a problem, don’t live by the airport, and for heaven’s sake, don’t live by the fire department!!! Noise. Ahhh, my favorite topic. I have heard people describe wind turbines to sound like freight trains. LOL! My house is a block from the Union Pacific double track east/west mainline. There are 80+ trains passing my house everyday (and night). I think I can say from first hand experience (not from youtube) exactly what a freight train sounds like. Just wait till an 18000 ton coal train rumbles through at 2:00 am and makes your bed shake like the excercist. No, wind turbines are not like this at all. Yes, they make a sound as the blades cut through the air, but I would say that is not any louder or more unpleasant than the wave crashing on a beach (maybe you don’t like the beach, is that too noisy too?). I will give you that ice is a problem, but the company I worked for made sure that we shut down the turbines during ice storms. Human beings are resistant to change (unless we are talking the latest fashion craze or version of Play Station). So most utilities are stubbornly unwilling to open their arms to a new mode of generation – one that actually causes them to work a bit more to adjust their system to make up the difference between wind and load, but that’s why they get paid well, right? So base ball bats might be needed – especially when people are throwing rocks!!

vishnuprasath said...

When you have acquired new skills, it is important to know where to find job openings to put them to work.

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