As a leading renewable energy developer, we know renewable energy means well-paying jobs. So it was encouraging to see this story by Rocky Barker in the Idaho Statesman reporting the renewable energy sector was one of the few that continued growing during the recession, expanding 4 percent from 2007 to 2010. According to the story,
“More than 45,000 people work in Idaho’s energy sector, about 7 percent of all the state’s non-farm jobs. They get more than 10 percent of the wages. The department said a significant number of energy sector workers will be retiring in the next several years. They will have to be replaced and with the expected growth more will need training … In a similar vein, a study released this week by the Economic Policy Institute on the status of green jobs in the country, Idaho was ranked eighth in the nation among states with the greenest workforce.”
Erecting wind turbines requires the efforts of workers of various skill levels, such as construction laborers, construction equipment operators, crane operators, and electricians. According to the United States Department of Labor, wind turbine technicians nationwide receive annual median starting salaries between $35,000 and $40,000.
According to figures from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, each wind turbine creates 25 direct and indirect jobs during construction, manufacturing, and jobs to supply the construction crews. It generally takes six months to a year to put a wind turbine in the ground, although most project have a dozen or more turbines and employ as many people as needed to complete the project on schedule. After the turbines are built, each generates about 1.75 ongoing jobs for maintenance and operation.
Exergy has developed 129 wind turbines in Idaho since 2005, so based on those figures, Exergy created about 3,225 jobs in developing our wind farms and operation of our turbines alone sustains another 226 ongoing jobs statewide.
Also, according to the Department of Labor report, a significant number of energy sector workers will be retiring in the next several years. They will have to be replaced and with the expected growth more will need training. The Idaho Energy Workforce Consortium is developing a strategy to ensure Idaho workers are ready to fill the energy jobs as they open up, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said in his proclamation of Oct. 15-21 as “Careers in Energy Week.”