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Wind Energy Jobs may be Around the Corner,
But Competition is Still Fierce

by Associated Press
The Republic, June 3, 2011

Wind turbines in Blalock Canyon, a few miles off I-84 near Arlington. TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- The College of Southern Idaho just graduated eight students from its wind energy program. And while two of them have found jobs in the industry, the other six are still on the hunt for careers in a field that was recently considered a hot job trend.

The Times-News reports that 35-year-old Justin Miller has sent out about 60 applications and received one interview, but he says there just aren't jobs to be had -- and his expectations of potential employers knocking down his door after graduation haven't materialized.

CSI Wind Energy Instructor Mark Goodman said he recently talked to developers about job prospects and believes CSI may just be ahead of the curve.

"I'm hoping we are positioning ourselves so when it comes time to bring that to fruition they will look to us," Goodman said. "We're as perplexed as our students why those jobs aren't immediately available. Developers need to get more products up and more jobs out."

The state needs more infrastructure to draw the jobs to the region, he said. One proposed wind farm development, the 425-megawatt China Mountain project, would come in two phases, each providing around 25 jobs in northern Nevada and southern Idaho, Goodman said. But that project is still years away, and in May the Bonneville Power Administration briefly curtailed power generation from alternate sources because of the surplus of water flowing through hydroelectric dams.

Plentiful hydropower could leave the West's burgeoning alternative energy industry vulnerable if established generation sources can meet current needs in an area that lacks the capacity to transmit excess energy elsewhere.

CSI Instructional Dean Todd Schwarz said that while the college doesn't provide direct job placement for graduates, it helps with networking opportunities and works closely with industries to develop strong ties.

He said students in the wind energy program learn relevant skills that can transfer to other jobs as well.

"It's not like there are no opportunities, but sometimes students think that when they finish this program they will just have to wait by the phone," Schwarz said.

Information from: The Times-News

Associated Press
Wind Energy Jobs may be Around the Corner, But Competition is Still Fierce
The Republic, June 3, 2011

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