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