wind energy

Growing up on the plains of West Texas, Lanny Copeland says there weren't too many options for a young man looking to make a living.

"If you weren't a farmer," Copeland says, "chances were pretty good you were in the oil field."

But from early on, he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up — to follow in his father's footsteps as a cowboy and ranch manager.

"You felt like you were a part of history," Copeland says, "taking part in the great Texas cattle industry."

The country’s fastest growing occupation is wind turbine technician, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — with numbers expected to more than double over the next decade.

So what does a wind turbine job entail? Where can you get training? And will the field continue to grow under the Trump administration?

The U.S. wind power industry is celebrating after reaching a new milestone in November: 70 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity.

"That's enough to power about 19 million homes," says Michael Goggin, senior director of research at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

There are more than 50,000 wind turbines operating across 40 states and Puerto Rico, according to the AWEA.

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Texas is known for being an energy producing state, but while many still associate the state with oil and natural gas, others are catching up with the state's renewable energy bonanza. Texas is leading the nation in the production of wind power. In fact there's so much wind power being generated at night that one energy company, TXU, has created a program to provide free electricity to consumers who sign up for this particular plan.

But that plan does have considerably higher priced electricity metered during the daytime. 

Texas Wind Power Subsidies In Jeopardy

Jun 25, 2015

Texas leads the United States in the production of wind power, largely in thanks to a state mandate that utilities source a certain amount of electricity from renewables.

Wind power provides 10 percent of the Lone Star State’s energy. The industry uses a combination of private investment for production and government subsidies for transmission lines.

But there’s a movement to repeal state subsidies for wind power. Reporter Lorne Matalon of Marfa Public Radio reports.

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