(SWEETWATER) — A summer breeze floating through Texas brings a moment of relief for some residents, but thousands of Texans are taking advantage of each gust as a clean energy source.
Texas State Technical College and Nolan County are working together to lead the charge in the nation’s number one renewable energy source: wind energy.
“In Nolan County alone we’ve seen more than 250 jobs emerge because of wind energy,” said Ken Becker, executive director of Sweetwater Economic Development. “Whether it’s maintenance, manufacturing or installation there’s an opportunity in multiple fields and that’s feeding back into the community.”
With no intention of slowing down, the industry is clamoring for more and more people.
“Wind energy is growing,” said Billie Jones, a TSTC Wind Energy Technology instructor. “It’s a renewable energy source, so it’s it going to be here when we run out of other fuel sources which means there is definitely job security.”
Locally, wind energy helps rural communities like Sweetwater with new sources of income and tax revenue. Globally, it provides an opportunity for the more adventurous to travel and work in various locations.
“I accepted a job with KBA and after I graduate in December they will be flying me to Germany for a year of training,” said Kaitlin Sullivan, a TSTC Wind Energy Technology student. “I’m so excited because I get to travel but also because my job options are pretty much limitless in this industry.”
Sullivan grew up watching wind turbines pop up in her hometown of Dumas, but assures that the industry is accepting of anyone willing to learn and interested in clean energy.
“I had already earned a bachelor’s degree in English but couldn’t find a job I liked, so I went back to school at TSTC and found my calling,” said Sullivan.
The wind energy industry has evolved from many field technicians learning as they worked to having specific industry standards, training and certification requirements for all wind turbine technicians.
“Back in 2007 when I entered the wind industry there were no wind turbine training programs and very few experienced wind turbine technicians,” said Tony Robinette, field operations and recruiting manager at SystemOne, which has locations in Amarillo, Dallas and Houston. “Now, training programs like TSTC have created clear paths for entry into the wind industry to meet the rising demand and create more opportunities for wind technicians.”
As global populations grow, so does the demand for energy.
“This industry is here to stay,” Becker said. “We use energy everyday and we need to pursue something sustainable like wind energy because it is renewable and it gives back in a positive way to the surrounding communities.”
TSTC offers the Wind Energy Technician certificate and the Associate of Applied Science degree in Wind Energy Technology.
For more information about Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.