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Wind Energy for Rock Climbers

January 4, 2010

In a recent article in The New York Times, readers are offered a look into the wind industry’s version of The Deadliest Catch, the Discovery Channel’s hit show about Alaskan crab fishermen. The Times piece features two rope specialists who service wind turbines in the most hands-on—and hair-raising—fashion imaginable: suspended from ropes and harnesses, dangling hundreds of feet in the air.

Rope companies, which historically specialized in everything from repairing skyscrapers to cleaning the Mount Rushmore monument, have expanded their bailiwick to include wind turbines. According to the article, the increased demand over the past few years for rope specialists coincides with the expansion of wind energy, with some companies reporting wait-times of up to two months for their services. While the profession attracts the expected rock climbers, X Games enthusiasts, and adrenaline junkies; enlisting rope companies to service turbines actually entails less risk than using cranes or skybuckets, according to proponents of the rope method.

This opportunity for rock climbers to market their skills to wind companies (at upwards of $2,000 per two-person team, according to the article) may appear unique at first glance. But it is illustrative of a growing source of domestic job growth. Everyone from former tractor mechanics to electricians to public relations specialists are seeing new opportunities open up with the expansion of renewable energy and related industries.

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