When wind turbines need maintenance or repairs, you want people who are comfortable working 300 feet above ground, hanging from a rope.
Wind power has skyrocked in the United States over the past decade. Since 2000, we've gone from about 2,500 megawatts of installed capacity to more than 40,000. That means a lot more turbines, and when those turbines need maintenance or repairs, you want people who are comfortable working 300 feet above ground, hanging from a rope. Rock climbers are perfect for the job.
Rope Partner, a Santa Cruz-based turbine maintenance and repair company, hires recreational climbers to get to the top of turbines in two-man teams. They perform routine inspections, provide cleaning and upkeep services, and even repair damage to the fiberglass blades. Chris Bley, an outdoorsman and environmentalist, launched the business in the early aughts after talking to two fellow climbers in Joshua Tree National Park who made money working on turbines in their native Germany. Since starting as a one-man operation, Rope Partner has expanded to more than 50 employees and works on turbines throughout the United States, and in Mexico and Canada.
Not only do these rock-climbing turbine doctors keep the clean energy flowing, they also get to enjoy an outdoor office. Unlike the rest of us they aren't being slowly killed by sedentary desk work. Van Jones may have undersold these green-collar jobs after all.