We don’t live in an absolute world. Often, there’s more than one solution to a challenge – just as there are likely many ways to look at a situation and say it’s good or bad. The energy resources are no exception.

Generally, we hear that renewable energy sources like solar and wind mean the end fossil fuel industry jobs. There’s no dancing around the fact that jobs are lost when a coal mine shuts down – but it doesn’t mean there are no energy-related opportunities for those workers.

Welcome To Carbon County, Wyoming

Yes, there is such a place. Carbon County is known for its abundant coal deposits, just as the State of Wyoming is known as one of the top sources of this traditional fuel for electricity generation. Unfortunately, Carbon County coal mines continue to close as the United States – and the rest of the world – shift to renewable energy sources.

But, here’s the thing about many of these jobless coal miners. They’re highly skilled mechanical and electrical engineering professionals. In fact, their backgrounds make them excellent candidates for well-paying positions in wind farms

Striking Gold

Goldwind, a Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer, realized this matching skill pattern. They recently offered a program to retrain American workers who have lost their coal jobs to become wind farm technicians. The program will start at the site of a new wind farm in Carbon County, Wyoming – which will be built with hundreds of turbines supplied by Goldwind.

The Chinese company’s American arm will spearhead the effort. In a New York Times article, the US-based chief executive said, “If we can tap into that market and also help out folks that might be experiencing some challenges in the workforce today, I think that it can be a win-win situation.”

This is an important and crucial opportunity for residents in the area who have depended on the local coal mines for employment. Job loss in the coal industry is accelerating. The department of labor reports that there were 8% fewer coal jobs at the end of the first quarter of 2017 than the same time the prior year.

It’s difficult to argue that there’s a valid reason to resurrect the coal industry. Nobody, however, should argue that we have an obligation to look for ways to help coal miners make a transition to usher in coal’s replacement.

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