AWEA board chair Rob Caldwell samples life in the “elevated office”

AWEA board Chair and Senior Vice President, Energy Renewables & Business Development, at Duke Energy Renewables recently tried life at the “elevated office.” Rob made the climb thousands of wind technicians across the country make every day by trekking to the top of a turbine. It’s an eye-opening experience that helps anyone better understand a day in the life of America’s second fastest growing job.

Here are a few observations Rob made on his way uptower:

“When I arrived at the wind turbine, I was already sweating. But it wasn’t until I put on all the gear that I realized the physical and mental weight of what I was about to do. Eva Gonzalez, one of our wind technicians, took pity on me and handed me a pink bandana to wear under my helmet. It would be my way to honor breast cancer survivors. I was inspired by the message and appreciated the fact that my pink bandana would keep the sweat from rolling into my eyes.

The climb to the top took me about 40 minutes. Not bad considering the 95-degree heat and 100% humidity. My arms were tired – I was surprised by how much upper body strength was required. I drank three bottles of water and rested a few times along the way, but I made it.”

AWEA Board Chair Rob Caldwell standing atop a turbine.

“Once we got to the top, the crew looked at me and said, “OK, now get to work!” Once you get to the top, a wind technician’s responsibilities just begin.

At the top, techs have several hours of electrical work to complete before descending. I also learned that some of our technicians make the climb several times a day. Planning is a must. You don’t want to get to the top and realize you forgot a tool or the proper oil required for the job.”

Jaw dropping views and a unique passion for work hundreds of feet off the ground are common refrains at wind projects from coast to coast and everywhere in between. As Rob summed up:

“Overall the experience was humbling. It gave me a greater appreciation for our team. They are what makes us accomplish our mission of producing renewable energy and are the heart of our business. It also gave me more insight into the work they accomplish every day. The crew was so helpful and took time to explain safety precautions and tips along the way. Their passion for their careers and their camaraderie really shined through.”

Learn more about what it’s like to prepare for life at the “elevated office:”

Greg Alvarez