Last week, the ElevatorInfo site launched a new page with information for wind turbine owners and operators about the work International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) members from across the United States are doing with equipment in the wind power industry. From Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island to land-based wind farms in California, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Minnesota, and beyond, our skilled apprentices and mechanics are helping to build and maintain the elevator systems within the nation’s fastest-growing clean power energy sector.
According to a report from the International Energy Association, in 2021, electricity generated from wind power (globally) increased by 17% over the previous year, which was the highest rate of growth among all renewable power technologies1. And for the United States, the US Department of Energy reported that in 2021, wind power accounted for 32% of U.S. energy capacity growth2. As the wind power industry continues to grow, there will be an increased need for experienced technicians to take care of the complex machinery that generates it.
Working on the conveyance systems housed within wind turbines is a natural fit for IUEC elevator constructors, who have been installing, servicing, repairing, and modernizing equipment like this for more than 150 years. Learning how to work safely at heights and in all different kinds of challenging environmental conditions is an integral part of their work. The comprehensive education and training they receive from the National Elevator Industry Educational Program (NEIEP) provides an excellent starting point, giving them broad foundational skills (in elevator and escalator installation, maintenance, and repair) during apprenticeship – along with continuing education courses in focused topics which allow them to develop the specialized skills needed for the wind power industry. Given the knowledge and experience required to perform the tasks of an elevator constructor, it’s not a surprise that when wind turbine owners and contractors are looking for qualified people to work on their equipment, they look to IUEC mechanics.
Based on an assessment of the core competencies required for the elevator trade, by the time IUEC mechanics complete their apprenticeship and earn their journeyperson’s card, they must:
- Be able to work safely at extreme heights
- Have advanced mechanical aptitude
- Possess the ability and willingness to follow instructions
- Have sharp analytical skills
- Have the ability to work effectively in small teams
- Be self-motivated/directed and able to work with minimal supervision
- Know and implement safety procedures for working with high and low voltage wiring
- Troubleshoot control wiring and perform diagnostics
- Work on hydraulics and pipe fitting
- Understand key fundamentals and advanced concepts of working with electromechanics and motors
IUEC mechanics don’t only rely on the broad base of knowledge gained during their time in the NEIEP apprenticeship program, they actively seek out ways to advance their learning to stay current with changes in industry technology. It’s through NEIEP’s continuing education programs that they develop the specialized skills they need to work on all different kinds of conveyance equipment, including wind industry equipment. And if members have training needs that are especially unique, the IUEC seeks out partnerships with other training providers who can fulfill them.
ElevatorInfo recently shared an article about a new collaboration between the IUEC’s education program and Survival Systems USA in Groton, CT. Working with Survival Systems has made it possible for the IUEC to provide Global Wind Organization (GWO) Basic Training to elevator technicians/constructors who install, maintain, service, and repair wind industry equipment – including a Sea Survival course that involves getting into the water to learn safety skills necessary for working with offshore equipment.
Certifications IUEC mechanics who complete the Survival Systems training program earn include:
- GWO BST-1005 Basic Safety Training
- GWO BST-WAH-1002 Work at Height
- GWO BST-MH-102 Manual Handling
- GWO BST-FA-2002 Medic First Aid + Trauma
- GWO BST-FA-101 Fire Awareness
- GWO-SS GWO Sea Survival
- GWO-EFA Enhanced First Aid
- GWO-ART Advanced Rescue Training
IUEC members who work on wind turbine elevators have also participated in the High Angle Rescue Training program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College in Michigan.
This spring, staff from the IUEC and the Elevator Industry Work Preservation fund will be visiting, speaking, and exhibiting at a number of major wind energy conferences, including:
American Clean Power’s Operations, Maintenance and Safety Conference 2023
Wed, Mar 1 – Fri, Mar 3
Marriott World Center
Offshore Wind California’s Pacific Offshore Wind Summit 2023
Mon, May 8 – Wed, May 10
SAFE Credit Union Convention Center, 1401 K St
American Clean Power’s Cleanpower Conference and Expo
Mon, May 22 – Thu, May 25
New Orleans, LA
American Clean Power’s Offshore Windpower Conference
Tue, Oct 3 – Wed, Oct 4
Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St
If you are an owner, operator, or contractor for offshore or land-based wind turbines, don’t jeopardize your equipment by allowing inexperienced mechanics to service the conveyance systems within them. Contact us here to be connected with an IUEC-affiliated company.
1. “Wind Electricity,” accessed February 23, 2023, https://www.iea.org/reports/wind-electricity
2. “DOE Finds Record Production and Job Growth in U.S. Wind Power Sector,” accessed February 23, 2023, https://www.energy.gov/articles/doe-finds-record-production-and-job-growth-us-wind-power-sector.