Wind Industry Embraces US Military Veterans

If anyone is cut out to be a turbine cowboy, it’s got to be a military veteran.

It’s happening, too, thanks to an Obama administration-backed program and Gemini Energy Service. The company received a $200,000 Workforce Development grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in July 2010 to create a training program that would help veterans translate their military skillset into a wind-industry technical career. At the time, Orion International, the parent company to Gemini, said it was kicking in an additional $154,000 for training, tools and equipment costs.

wind industry veterans military

image via U.S. Department of Energy/Claudia Trevizo

Now the DOE says the program is working. Since the start of the training program, Gemini reports expanding its workforce from 23 technicians to 104 technicians. It’s not clear how many are military vets, but David Holland, senior Gemini technician and military veteran, is certainly among them.

“Because of my background in the Air Force, I was able to pick up the concepts presented by the trainer quickly and utilize those on their project sites as well as in other areas of my daily work,” Holland said in a DOE report on the program. “The safety practices as well as the technical skills I learned have helped to enhance my overall performance on various jobsites, keeping myself and my coworkers safe and allowing the tasks to be performed in a timely manner.”

When the program was announced in 2010 Gemini said that upon completing the program, veterans would be qualified Wind Technicians, “with immediate career opportunities within the wind industry” – with some staying on at Gemini or using Orion’s military career placement services to go elsewhere in the industry.

“As the industry expands, we see a need for skilled technicians to support the increasingly complex wind turbines that are erected throughout the nation,” said James Haley, senior director of Gemini.  “At the conclusion of the DOE project, Gemini will continue to hire and train former military veterans because of their technical backgrounds and the project success the wind industry has seen from their hard work.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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