To the Editor:
As a wind turbine technology instructor at Mitchell Technical College, I’m writing to urge all South Dakotans to take a moment to recognize the value of clean renewable energy.
Across rural communities in South Dakota, it’s common to hear stories of young people who chose to move away from their hometowns in search of better economic opportunities. However, the growth of the wind energy industry in our state has created good jobs for graduates of programs like Wind Turbine Technology who can now afford to stay in our state, paying taxes, purchasing homes, raising families and supporting small businesses.
Wind energy development is especially impactful for our rural communities. Across the U.S., approximately 70 percent of rural wind projects are in counties where the local median household income is below the nationwide median. For many of our smaller communities, South Dakota’s wind industry offers much-needed jobs and economic opportunity. Additionally, wind farms pay $9 million per year in state and local taxes, money that supports local schools, roads and emergency services.
Even with nearly 3,000 workers employed in South Dakota’s wind energy industry, the demand for wind technicians continues to grow. And these are good-paying jobs. Mitchell Tech’s program has a 100 percent placement rate, with many more job openings than there are graduates to fill them. Experienced wind technicians can expect to earn median income of about $55K, and often much more. Requiring just a two0-year degree, becoming a wind technician offers South Dakotans an affordable, accessible path to an excellent career and a successful future.
Mitchell Tech, along with our many industry partners, have invested heavily in educating future wind technicians. I urge you to learn more about this vital energy technology and support clean energy in South Dakota.
Brian Roberts, director/instructor, Wind Turbine Technology Program