Written by 10:23 am Science & Technology Views: [tptn_views]

It Takes Guts, Not College, to Fix Wind Turbines for a Living

First things first: If you hate heights, being a wind turbine technician might be not the profession for you. Sure, we’ve had individuals who aren’t comfortable with heights achieve success within the job. But I can safely say you’re climbing up 300 feet a day. (Sometimes literally: Older wind farms have turbines that you simply rise up using ladders, although most places now use an elevator or trolley system.)

A mechanical background or an electrical background is useful. I got a job with a builder right out of highschool and worked my way up until the housing market fell off around 2008. That’s when I made a decision to enroll in a one-year vocational program to coach in power generation, with an enormous give attention to wind energy. I used to be hired immediately after school and mainly traveled the United States as a wind technician. Around that point, there was an enormous push for wind generation. And really, that push hasn’t stopped. We’re in a world straight away where we’re just attempting to sustain. I actually need to cement renewables as the first technique of power generation moving forward. Some of my best days at work have been after I get to be the primary boots on the bottom touching some recent technology, figuring it out, and coming up with answers before anybody else does.

It’s a blue-collar job, right? It’s a 7-to-3, 7-to-5 day, five days every week. You’re required to take on-call and additional time assignments on the weekend. So you are out in the sector, you are out in the weather. That’s the most important challenge. In the Midwest, I’m going from one extreme to the opposite—the recent, humid summer months after which freezing cold months. You dress for the weather. Almost every company I’ve worked for gives you an allowance for gear like balaclavas, hand warmers, foot warmers, coverall bibs, heavy jackets.

On a typical day, you get in and assess the health of the wind farm together with your team. (You normally work in teams of two or three—and also you spend more time with them than you do your individual family.) If a turbine has an issue and isn’t running, you address that first. Most of the time, though, you’re on the market just doing routine maintenance. You understand how your automotive needs an oil change, tire rotation, air filter change? The same type of thing applies to wind turbines. We must grease the bearings. We torque all of the bolts and make sure that nothing got loose. We change the oil and clean the turbine. If a farm has 100 turbines, say, then you could have 200 maintenance checks to do this yr. One check typically takes a complete day, and also you’re doing that 4, five days in a row. The work can get monotonous. It’s labor-intensive, too. If something like a gearbox or generator fails, those are big, heavy components—those may be the toughest days.

The job has gotten higher through the years. Companies are beginning to make the turbine fit the technician. So, you already know, you don’t must maneuver your body in a way that’s not natural. Or they make things easier to access from a ladder so that you don’t put yourself in a compromising position. The job shouldn’t be nearly returning turbines to service. It’s about doing that and going home the identical way you got here to work.

You may be at an owner-operator, where you report back to the identical site day by day, or you’ll be able to be a traveling wind tech. There are contract corporations which have individuals who do anything from component repair to major overhaul projects.

For an owner-operator within the US, you’ll be able to expect anywhere from $25 all the best way as much as $50 an hour. If you’ve had greater than five years within the industry, and also you’re very competent in your trade, you’ll be able to probably expect to make somewhere in that $35 to $40 range. If you’re within the union—I’m within the Utility Workers Union of America—it’s between $50 and $65 an hour. I’ve worked each union and nonunion jobs.

I even have 13 years on this field, my colleague has 10, and we’re type of considered the veterans, which shouldn’t be typical in most industries. There’s this sense of newness still, and there appears to be a lot opportunity for any person who desires to make a profession for themselves. You know, the sky is absolutely the limit.

—As told to Caitlin Kelly

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