In Coal-Friendly Wyoming, Company Will Offer Free Training to Wind Turbine Workers

An American affiliate of a leading Chinese wind turbine manufacturer will offer laid-off coal miners and other workers free training to become wind turbine technicians in Wyoming’s expanding wind-energy sector.

Goldwind Americas, which will be supplying as many as 850 turbines to a major wind-energy facility in Carbon County, Wyoming, said its training program will begin this summer and could eventually prepare as many as 200 people to work at the wind farm. Wyoming produces more coal than any other state in the U.S. and has even imposed a tax on wind-energy generation, yet despite that the state’s wind power sector is growing because of the region’s high winds.

With natural gas rapidly replacing coal for electricity generation and with the growth of renewable energy, Wyoming’s coal sector has been shrinking and hundreds of miners were laid off last year. Nationally, employment for miners and geological engineers is expected to grow by 6 percent from 2014 to 2024, while  employment for wind-energy technicians is expected to increase by 108 percent.

Robert Godby, director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming, said of Goldwind America’s expansion in the state and job-training program, “The more you hear these positive stories and you start to see more direct benefits, it changes local perspectives and kind of begins to open minds.”