Path Home Shows 2010 Show Archive April 2010 Show 1014 El Reno Wind Tower

El Reno Wind Tower

Estimates are that one wind technician is needed to service every ten mega-watts of wind generating capacity. In 2009, seven hundred new wind technicians were needed to keep pace with installations of new wind turbines. To meet that need, several Oklahoma schools like Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno, are now offering courses in wind energy.
El Reno Wind Tower

Wind Industry Training

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Canadian Valley Technology Center--El Reno Campus

Show Dates

Show 1014: El Reno Wind Tower

Air date: April 4, 2010



Rob:  Estimates are that one wind technician is needed to service every ten megawatts of wind generating capacity; that means in 2009 alone, as many as seven hundred new wind technicians were needed to keep pace with the installations of new wind turbines.  Now, to meet that demand, several Oklahoma schools are now offering courses in wind energy.  Courtenay DeHoff takes us to Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno, where the only thing more unique than their curriculum, is where it’s being taught.

Courtenay DeHoff:  The winds of change are blowing in Oklahoma for energy workers in the wind energy industry; an industry that promises to provide a stable career for years to come.

Daniel Wilson:  I’m still technically employed in the oil field; but, we don’t have a job.  Wind energy is, it seems a lot more reliable in the future.

Courtenay:  Daniel Wilson is a student at Canadian Valley Tech Center and says why he decided to study to become a wind technician.

Daniel:  Wind energy seems like a promising career for a lot of us, especially if the jobs we’ve had aren’t there anymore; and they say it’s not going away.

Courtenay:  Wilson and his classmates are part of the comprehensive class that focuses on training potential wind energy service personnel.  Classroom work that is not always in the classroom, says Canadian Valley Business Director, Bill Hulsey.

Bill Hulsey:  These guys that will be going through this program will be climb qualified, they’ll have all of the industry standard rescue training, they’ll know how to get out of the tower in case they have to, they’ll know how to get their buddy out in case there’s an issue; if there’s a medical issue up turbine, they’ll know how to get their team members out.  They’ll have all of the qualifications that are requested by the wind farm operators in the state of Oklahoma and surrounding states, in order to get on the wind farms and do the work.

Courtenay:  Work that will be taught in full-size wind turbines erected right at the school.  Cody Spikes is a wind energy consultant and helped get the project on its feet.  A project he feels is crucial to the student’s success.

Cody Spikes:  When a student leaves this program they are equipped, they have experience because we have two towers; we have the one tower that we stood up today with the mock nacelle that will be used for training, and then the second one will be a hundred twenty-six, hundred thirty-two feet, somewhere around there, and it will be used for climbing up and down and eventually producing electricity.  Because they’ve not only got the certificates and the experience, well, the certificates and the knowledge, but they’re gaining the experience by actually climbing in a mono-tube tower.  We’re real similar to what the wind energy is; we’re just a little bit smaller scale.

Courtenay:  They’re receiving full-scale training on that smaller scale, providing them with everything an employer is looking for.

Cody:  So, you can see the way the industry has grown and that’s what we want to do, is give guys a leg up, give ‘em a fighting chance.  You know, when they’re standing there, it saves an employer money because they’ve got all the certificates, the employer does not have to pay for things like OSHA 30, first-aid CPR, confined space.  We teach two forms of emergency egress, we teach a track til and a dbi solid roll lift, so you know, arc flash, multimeter, things like that give ‘em a leg up when they’re rooting for a job when you’ve got five guys trying to get the same one.

Courtenay:  And with the projected expansion, industry technicians like the ones in training in El Reno, are crucial.

Cody:  A lot of wind farms have a repair crew and a maintenance crew.  Your repair crews will be your more experienced technicians that will do more electric and high voltage work and your maintenance crews will be the guys that are doing the day-to-day maintenance and service.  It’s a big machine, it’s got a big gear box, it’s got a big generator, a big main shaft, everything needs to be greased regularly, torked, there’s some filters that have to be changed, you’ve got hydraulic filters in some turbines, you’ve got oil filters in others.  It’s a, it’s a daily grind of one, getting you and your equipment to the top, it’s two hundred and fifty feet for most turbines, some of ‘em are three hundred feet, and even if you’re in shape, it’s still a workout.

Courtenay:  As the wind continues to blow and the industry keeps growing, the physically demanding work to keep turbines turning will continue to be taught in El Reno.

Rob:  And Courtenay tells us the money used to purchase the nacelle comes from lottery funds provided by our state legislature.