I am a wind turbine tech. Techs start between $14.00 an hour and $20.00 an hour. the top out on the pay scale is somewhere over $30 an hour. It depends alot on whom you go to work for, i.e. an OEM (GE, Siemens, Vestas, Clipper, Mitsubishi, etc) a contactor (Granite, EMS, OTT, etc), or an owner (FPL, Iberdrola, Outlands, Noble, Invenergy, Babcock and Brown, Edison Power, etc). Wind is a very odd business, it is not uncommon for a site to have personnel from 2 to 8 different companies on it at the same time. This depends on the scope of the contract that the owner signed with the manufacturer (OEM) when they bought their turbines.
Here are some examples:
There are personnel from 2 companies on the site I work at most of the time. There is 1 person that works for the owner, and 5 of us that work for the OEM. We have a 5 year contract to operate and maintain (O&M) this site. The customer is responsible for balance of plant, (BOP). BOP includes the transformers that are just outside the towers, the underground feeder lines, the substation, and the transmission lines that feed the power we produce into the power grid at the Utilities substation about 10 miles away. On a particular day in February, there were the following personnel on site: 1 owner representative, 5 OEM techs, 4 people from a crane company (with 2 cranes), 10 contractor personnel from Granite Services (brought in to do some work with the crane), 8 electricians working on a feeder fault for the owners, and 6 people from the local utility working in the substation. See what I mean?
Another example. A freind of mine works at another site where they have a Warrenty only contract. So, they have 6 or so people that fix any warrenty problems with the turbines. The owners are providing their own people for O&M and BOP. Sounds easier right? Not exactly. If a turbine goes down, the O&M guys have to go out and work on it for 2 hours before calling the Warrenty guys to fix it. You still have the same amount of people running around at different times.
As for what a wind turbine tech does, that again depends on who you hire with, and what their contract is. An O&M tech does all routine maintenance on the turbine, change the filters, grease the machine, clean it, check the torque on the bolts, and the 1st 2 hours of troubleshooting on any problem that comes down. If you are an OEM O&M tech, you will do all the troubleshooting and repair of the turbines in addition to all the maintenance. If you are a contractor, you will do whatever it is that you are contracted to do, oil changes, crane work, retrofits, etc. Almost anything you do on wind turbines will be in metric since they are mostly designed in Europe.
1 thing you need to keep in mind. These towers are 65 to 100 meters (213 to 328 feet) tall, with the average being around 80 meters (262 feet). Most of them just have a ladder that goes up the inside, bottom to top. There is no elevator or manlift in them. It is a lot of work getting up that ladder. I have said since I started that the hardest part of the job is just getting up the tower. About 75?f the work to be done will be up tower. You will also be working in all different weather conditions (hot, cold, rain, snow, etc.) and you will be on call at least part of the time, so it is possible that you will be working at any time including the middle of the night. Wind sites are usually located in remote areas, so road conditions, traffic, and wildlife are all hazards of the job. Wild life includes: yellow jackets, snakes, badgers, coyotes, deer, elk, moose, cattle, you name it. Contrary to popular belief, birds thrive amongst the turbines. On my site we have: Blue birds, Red tailed hawks, owls, bald eagles, grouse, quail, pheasants, and many others.
All in all, it is a great job. You will stay in shape, make a good wage, work in a challanging job, and get to do something for the environment.
Hope this helps you.
Wind turbine technician for the last 3 years.
Answered By: D_Offio - 9/8/2008