Wind energy: Oklahoma and America need wind technicians–and a PTC extension

National Public Radio carried a segment yesterday on the need for wind turbine technicians in Oklahoma, a state that has been hard hit by unemployment, and elsewhere around the nation. The rapid expansion of America’s wind power industry, it said, means there is a growing need for technicians to service and maintain the giant wind turbines.

Being a turbine jockey isn’t for everyone–it requires the ability to work high in the air as well as in enclosed spaces. But it’s a job that provides a solid paycheck and valuable experience in an industry that is likely to keep growing in the future (for what it has meant to one Iowa family, and one wind technician who says, "This is a pretty cool job–it’s pretty cool that I get to do this every day," see Wind Energy Provides Stable Middle-Class Jobs in America’s Heartland).

AWEA has developed a Seal of Approval accreditation program for wind technician training courses, so if this is something that might interest you, check it out. The AWEA Careers in Wind site provides more information about current openings in the industry.

Wind power offers a variety of well-paying jobs–from turbine technician to heavy truck driver to a host of manufacturing jobs with the growing number of U.S. companies who make the 8,000 components that go into a modern high-tech utility-scale wind turbine. Some 75,000 workers are drawing paychecks from this emerging industry today, and according to projections from the U.S. Department of Energy under the George W. Bush administration, that number could swell to 500,000 by 2030. However, to help make that happen, Congress needs to act quickly to renew the wind power industry’s primary incentive, the Production Tax Credit (PTC). The PTC is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, but the uncertainty created by its potential end is already having an impact on the industry.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 72 cosponsors, including 18 Republicans, and has received the endorsement of a broad coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Western Governors’ Association. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.

Tom Gray,