More job opportunities in Iowa’s growing wind energy industry should be on the horizon. Amy Roussin is Human Resources Director at the Trinity company, which manufactures wind towers in Newton. She says they’ve been expanding their payroll since their first day of operations 18 months ago.
“Right now we’re at 164 employees,” Roussin said. “I was the second employee they hired so I’ve seen a lot of growth and a lot of expansions so it’s been very exciting. We are still ramping up processes.” Roussin and other industry representatives spoke Tuesday at a wind energy conference at Iowa State University. Robert Lloyd is plant manager at Clipper Windpower in Cedar Rapids, which assembles everything but towers and blades. He says technicians and engineers are in demand.
“We’ve built about 550 turbines since we opened the plant,” Lloyd said. “I started the plant in January of 2006 with about 10 people. We’ve got 320 now there.” Lloyd described a temporary slowdown last year, but predicts job growth for the next couple of years. I-S-U Engineering professor Jim McCalley believes the number of wind turbines operating in Iowa could eventually grow from a few thousand to as many as 20,000. He asked Jay Barrett of Upwind Solutions, a firm which services wind towers in Iowa, if the state can handle that growth.
“If we hit those kind of numbers do we have the workforce to deal with that?” Barrett responded: “If you’d asked me that three years ago, I’d say no, but with most of the colleges coming on board with wind turbine programs, there are a lot of people in the pool right now as far as good qualified technicians.”