FORMER shearer, Phil Lewis from Goulburn, couldn’t believe his luck when he was offered a construction job on Capital Wind Farm.
“After 25 years shearing I was looking for a career change but I wasn’t trained for anything other than shearing. I’d never even sent an email before I had this job,” he said.
According to the Clean Energy Council’s Russell Marsh, wind farms are providing alternative employment opportunities for locals and helping to sustain vibrant rural communities.
“The move from high pollution industries to renewable energy will put the region at the forefront of the green economy and has the potential to bring major job opportunities and significant investment to rural NSW,” he said.
Mr Lewis is one of the 120 people who worked on the construction of Infigen’s Capital Wind Farm during its construction.
Having worked as a shearer for many of the landowners where the Capital Wind Farm sits, he knew the area and many of the people involved.
“It was great to be involved from the beginning and to watch the project grow. Since the start Suzlon has given us training in things like first aid, height training, climbing, forklift license and turbine operations and maintenance training.
“I’ve gained a lot of experience, learnt about computers and servicing wind turbines.”
Now construction is complete, Mr Lewis has a job along with 14 other locals as a service technician on the wind farm.
“Servicing of the turbines is ongoing as the 90 turbines are serviced at six month intervals,” he said.
“I’m climbing about 80 metres and on the odd day it’s not blowing a gale I get to have my lunch with my harness on and have the best view on the Southern Tablelands.
“Although the wind chill in winter can be a bit challenging when you’re up that high.
“It’s a great crew and we have a good laugh. We’ve got people who used to work as a butcher, fitters, mechanics, a shearer, and electricians.”
Mr Lewis said he hadn’t experienced any ill health effects from working on a wind farm.
“When you look at countries like Japan our options could be a whole lot worse – we could have a nuclear plant in our backyard,” he said.
Mr Marsh said Goulburn and its surrounding regions stand to benefit significantly from the move to a low carbon future. The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for the clean energy sector.
It is a not-for-profit organisation that provides a unified voice for more than 500 solar, wind, hydro, wave, bioenergy, geothermal, cogeneration and energy efficiency companies.