October 20, 2010

What Next?: Green Collar Jobs

Hit a wind farm with a teen who think this just might be her career.


Justin: Hey there, guys! We are in New York City outside the apartment of Nicole Hallobauf. She is a high school student who wants to pursue a career in alternative energy after college. Now, we also heard that she want to work in wind technology. So, we are taking her to a wind farm in Pennsylvania to see if she is really into it. So, I am going to go inside right now and meet her.

Hey there, Nicole! I am Justin from Channel One. How are you?

Nicole Hallobauf: Great! How are you?

Justin: Good. Now we have heard that you want to be a wind developer. Is that right?

Nicole: Yeah. It’s something that I’m interested in.

Justin: Really? Because that is why we are here to help you today. We are taking you to the Locus Ridge Wind Farm in Pennsylvania, and we are going to meet a wind developer…

Nicole: Oh my god!

Justin: …and see how much you really want to do this and if it is the right career for you.

Nicole: Awesome! I’m so psyched!

Justin: She doesn’t want to invent or build green technology, instead she wants to be the developer, which is someone who comes up with the ideas and plans for making wind power work for a city or town.

We are taking a two-hour drive to Shenandoah, Pennsylvania to visit a wind farm that provides power for Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.

Nicole: There they are! Do you see them? They’re right over the trees, over there above the tree line! I think they’re beautiful. They’re way bigger than I ever imagined.

Justin: They’re enormous. It’s like a propeller on a UFO.

We are here to meet with wind farm developer Joe Green. He works for Iberdrola Renewables, and he did the planning to get this wind farm up and running.

Justin: Hey there, Joe. I am Justin. This is Nicole, our future wind developer here.

Joe Green: It’s nice to see you.

Nicole: Yeah. We’re really excited to look around.

Justin: After donning our hard hats, we were off for a tour. First stop: the base of a wind turbine.

Justin: So, Joe, could you just tell us a little bit about how big these turbines are?

Joe: Just under 400 feet. So, it’s taller than the Statue of Liberty.

Justin: So, how many turbines are here on site?

Joe: We have 64 turbines which generate enough energy to power about 40,000 homes annually.

Justin: How do the turbines create electricity? Some of you may have learned this in your science class. When a copper wire turns inside a magnet, it creates electricity. Well, up at the top of the wind turbines, that is exactly what is happening. The copper wire is turned by the blades of the wind turbine.

Joe doesn’t come up with the technology but figures out how to get it up and running. For this farm, he had to do things like find the location, get permits and create partnerships with the electric companies.

There is a lot of work that goes into…to the point where the turbines create electricity and deliver it to people’s homes.

Joe had to find a site, get environmental permits, choose locations for the turbines, arrange for power companies to buy the electricity, and figure out how to get the power to the utility company.

Nicole: So, what does someone study who wants to pursue a career in alternative energy?

Joe: The renewable energy field is very diverse, so you can do anything as varied as engineering, electrical, civil, mechanical, onto law degrees, environmental work, scientists, biologists, field personnel, handling different endangered species and so on.

Justin: So, what happens next? The Wind Farm Developers Association recommends that high school students interested in the field study math and science and english.

Wind farm developers like joe attend a four year college and often get graduate degrees in business, law, real estate, or engineering. Their salary range is $100,000-$125,000. People who maintain the wind turbines go to community college or technical schools that offer a certificate in wind turbine technology. Their starting salary is about $40,000. If you work in the industry for a few years and decide wind farm development isn’t for you, no problem!

Nicole: So, if someone is working in the wind farm industry, would you say those skills are transferable to another type of renewable energy and if so what type?

Joe: Certainly you could go on to do solar panels, certainly you could go on to do biomass projects. But, at the same time, these skills lend themselves to commercial real estate development, to other types of projects. If you can do this, there’s a lot of other types of doors open up.

Justin: After spending a day on the wind farm, Nicole said thumbs up to wind turbines.

Nicole: It’s shocking to me that some people don’t like these wind turbines. I wish you could hear them they sound like the ocean. It’s just gorgeous.

Justin: But she said thumbs down to being a wind farm developer. Today has changed her mind. She would rather spread awareness about environmental issues.

It is just like Joe said: taking the skills you have and doing good with them.


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