When the first wind turbines went up in the sky in Hartford, Connecticut, it was a big deal.
The state has seen a huge surge in renewable energy projects, which are generating jobs and creating jobs and generating tax revenue.
And now that the wind project is coming down, there’s a new job in Hartford for a new generation of workers.
“Wind turbine manufacturing is very, very big in Connecticut,” said Jeff Kroll, president and CEO of Connecticut’s Clean Energy Association.
“We’ve got an enormous amount of wind energy right now.
We’ve got a lot of projects under way and it’s a big opportunity for us.”
But with a projected shortfall in the state’s wind resources and a shortage of skilled workers in the clean energy sector, many of those jobs are going to those who don’t need them the most.
“In the next few years, we’re going to see a lot more of people come into our clean energy jobs, and we need to make sure they’re in the best position to do it,” said Kroll.
“That means we need trained workers, but also some of them need some additional training.”
As of May, there were over 4,500 jobs in the Connecticut Clean Energy Industry, which is made up of more than 1,000 companies.
Of those, nearly half were renewable energy workers, with a little over 1,500 currently in the position of being certified to work in wind power.
“It’s very challenging to find people who can do all the certifications required for them, and that’s going to take a while,” said Ken Fennell, a spokesman for the Connecticut Renewable Energy Association (CREC).
“It requires a lot out of the person, it requires a tremendous amount of skill and dedication.”
But that’s exactly what is needed for people like Tom Stoll, who is now looking for a job in the Wind Energy Association of America (WEA).
Stoll is one of the few people who have been certified to do the certification work and is also the chief technical officer of the Connecticut Wind Energy Alliance.
“My primary concern is to get certified and then be certified and put in the proper training,” said Stoll.
“I know it’s not easy, and it does take time.
I’ve been working for six years on the cert, and there are a lot, a lot going on.”
The certification process is much like what you’d find in an aerospace manufacturing plant, where workers take the time to get their feet wet and learn what they’re going through.
“The certification process itself, the learning curve, it’s like getting a pilot’s license in a real airplane,” said Tom Stoklasa, CEO of the Wind Energies Association of Connecticut.
“You’re going from a lot to a lot and learning all the nuances of how airplanes work, how you make sure your equipment is safe, and then flying in a plane, the pilot learning all that.”
The process can take up to two years to complete, and Stokla said there are plenty of reasons to not start your career as a certified wind turbine worker.
“A lot of the certifying requirements are in the application,” he said.
“So you’re going out and looking for jobs, then you have to pay the $1,500 certification fee, and you have the certificate, which you need to fly in a wind turbine.”
Stoklas also points out that there are no set times when the wind turbines can be inspected and they must be in the most up to date condition, which can be a problem for some of the people who are certified.
“They have to be able to make it to the wind farm and they have to get it up and running, and they’re just not certified,” he explained.
“If they’re not in a condition where they’re safe to fly, they’re never going to be certified.”
For many of the jobs, the workers need to be trained to operate their equipment properly, and for some, that includes having their licenses reviewed.
“What we’re trying to do is to train people who want to work for us,” said Fennells.
“And the certification is really the last step.
The certifying certification is the first step to get into the workforce.”
The certifications process is also one of many things that have pushed up costs for some companies in Connecticut, and even in the private sector.
Some of the costs include the cost of certification training and certification materials, which costs up to $500,000, which includes $2,000 for each certification issued.
The cost for the certification itself can add up, and Fennills says that is one reason why some people are looking for cheaper jobs in other states.
“Many people in the renewable energy industry have gone from $100,000 in New York to $100-200,000 just to get an electrical certificate,” he noted.
“But you have that certification for a year and