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Wind Projects Providing Hope for Penn. Workers

March 8, 2010 - 11:28am

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The Recovery Act made three large-scale wind projects possible in Pennsylvania, and employees at Gamesa Wind are back to work filling orders for them.

$22.8 million in stimulus grants are putting 79 laid-off employees back on the job and making it possible for Gamesa to hire 50 additional workers at its other Pennsylvania locations. Gov. Edward Rendell has also announced that 257 jobs will be created at three wind farms across Pennsylvania. In that state, as well as many across the country, the Recovery Act helped avoid massive layoffs, provided relief to families in need, trained people for green jobs and enabled employers to hire workers doing jobs that are vital to the future of the American economy.

One such success story comes from Eric Sheesley of Nanty Glo. Eric is a quality inspector who was laid off just before the holidays and a father of two young children. Because of the stimulus funds and the projects for which Gamesa is now providing turbines, he’s back on the job. After living off of his unemployment compensation and the extra hours his wife was able to pick up at her receptionist job, Eric’s happy to be back in this exciting industry that is now a priority across the country.

“I love what I do, and working in renewable energy is very rewarding because I know the impact it’s going to have in the future locally and across the country and the whole world — I’m doing my share,” Eric says. “It was rough when I was laid off, kind of a scary time.”

Eric’s brothers also work for Gamesa, and they were all wondering if they would have jobs again when they were laid off.

“It was a financial stressor for all of us, and the only good part was being able to spend more time with my kids,” he says. “We were waiting for something to come around, and the stimulus money came and had a huge impact, putting everybody back to work — we’re working hard and glad to be doing it.”

Gamesa will install 19 wind turbines in Cambria and Blair counties, creating 85 jobs. Additionally, wind company Iberdrola will use stimulus funds to install 23 turbines in Fayette County, creating 129 jobs, and the installation of eight turbines at the Broad Mountain Wind Energy Center is expected to create 43 jobs.

Gamesa specializes in sustainable energy technologies, primarily wind power, and employs more than 800 people in Pennsylvania in partnership with the United Steelworkers of America union. Pennsylvania now ranks third in the growth of green jobs, just behind Texas and California, according to the Pew Center.

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