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Wind Company Offers Free Training for Coal Miners

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Wind Company Offers Free Training for Coal Miners

Despite President Donald Trump's pledge to bring back U.S. coal jobs, hundreds of laid off miners in Wyoming—the nation's largest coal-producing state—are still seeking work.

But these ex-miners might find hope with a most unlikely employer: a wind power company.


The American arm of Goldwind, a Chinese wind turbine maker, has announced a free program to retrain miners to become wind farm technicians, The New York Times reported.

The "Goldwind Works" program kicks off next month in Wyoming with informational meetings.

Coal workers are ideal because they have relevant electrical and mechanical skills as well as experience working under difficult conditions, explained David Halligan, Goldwind Americas chief executive.

"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," he told the Times.

Goldwind will supply up to 850 turbines for a project in Carbon County. About 200 workers will be needed to maintain and operate the plant once construction is complete.

Wyoming, which has waged a quasi-war on wind, happens to be the only state that that taxes wind energy production. However, the state also has some of the nation's best on-shore wind resources, with wind power constituting 8 percent of the state's energy.

"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," Halligan said.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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