Chinese Company Offers Wind Farming Jobs To US Coal Miners

Wyoming is the United States' biggest coal-mining state, and it's continuing to feel the downsizing of the industry with others heading to cheaper renewable sources. While they remain resistant to change, a turbine company hopes to change that.


May 22 2019, Updated 9:40 a.m. ET

Coal-mining jobs continue to decrease across the United States. Despite there being a push to bring some jobs back by removing restrictions like the carbon dioxide limit, these opportunities are getting axed and affecting many communities. It’s clearly time for coal miners to prepare for different jobs, and a Chinese company is hoping to aid the big issue.

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Goldwind, a turbine manufacturer that works with the US, announced that they were going to offer free training for former coal miners. The announcement came at an energy conference in Wyoming, which is still one of the heaviest coal manufacturers in the country. The focus will be at Carbon County, one of the first sites for coal mines.

At least 850 turbines will be installed and put in operation through this program, which is called “Goldwind Works.” Over 200 workers will be extended the opportunity to learn how to to set up, operate, and maintain these new turbines. Goldwind CEO David Halligan told The New York Times the similarities of being a coal miner and wind turbine operator.

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“If we can tap into that market and also help out folks that might be experiencing some challenges in the work force today, I think that it can be a win-win situation...If you’re a wind technician, you obviously can’t be afraid of heights. You have to be able to work at heights, and you have to be able to work at heights in a safe manner.”
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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people employed has dropped from over 76,000 in 2014 all the way to nearly 50,000 just a few months ago. It’s not going to get much better with alternative sources being cheaper and more attractive. They also predict that the wind turbine technician role will grow by over 108 percent seven years from now. The coal industry will only grow by six percent in comparison.

Wyoming’s desire to keep away from the wind energy industry likely won’t last much longer. A reason why it hasn’t gotten much traction is thanks to a law they passed to place heavy taxes on any wind farm operation. It’s a big disappointment considering that Wyoming joins the limited states in the Rocky Mountain area that has higher winds than most of the country. It also has plenty of room to install renewable energy sources -- the population density is the lowest in the continental US.

News of the declining coal industry will continue to be released. Ohio will shut down two of their coal-mining stations by the summer of 2018. West Virginia continues to lose a lot of their jobs as well with some even calling it a “dying state.” It’s time for many of these states with coal production at the forefront for many years to start planning for the future, and this program from Goldwind provides a great opportunity to help out.


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