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North Dakota partnerships serve as model for energy leadership

By Staff | Aug 22, 2020

Sue Sitter/PCT A wind farm generates power on the Pierce-Rolette County line north of Rugby.

In recognition of American Wind Week held Aug. 9-15, North Dakota energy, business, and higher education leaders addressed the growth, workforce training, and economic benefits of wind energy in a virtual panel recently. In particular, North Dakota’s leaders highlighted the unique partnerships forming with wind energy in the state that are now serving as a model for energy leadership.

The emergence of wind power in North Dakota has forged new workforce opportunities and energy development that will be critical for the state’s future. Wind power now accounts for 27% of North Dakota’s energy production and is helping to pave the way for billions of dollars of new capital investments in the state that are growing the economy.

American Wind Week recognized the significant growth and importance of wind power in North Dakota along with the cities of Rugby, Finley, and Oaks.

The vision of one leader, Neset Consulting, resulted in the formation of a state-of-the-art wind turbine technician academy at the Lake Region State College. The wind tech program is retraining displaced energy workers and training a new workforce in the second fastest growing occupation in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Neset and the Lake Region State College will celebrate with the first class of students to graduate from the new wind academy next week.

“Neset Consulting has been at the forefront of the U.S. energy sector for 40 years harnessing the power of North Dakota’s oil and gas natural resources. We had the vision to turn the energy industry challenges faced by workers and their families into an opportunity with our wind technician academy. I congratulate and am thrilled for the first round of students graduating from the program this month,” said Kathy Neset, president of Neset Consulting. “The economic potential in the wind energy industry and continued collaboration among a diverse set of North Dakota leaders will help our state remain a leading energy producer well into the future.”

“Lake Region State College’s wind technician program was the first of its kind in the region, and the success of our fast-forming partnership alongside Neset speaks to the resiliency of wind energy in today’s economy,” said Doug Darling, president of Lake Region State College.

“Wind energy is a renewable energy source, and its benefits extend well beyond that to include support of local infrastructure investments, new revenue, and the attraction of a new workforce,” added Brad Barth, executive director of Forward Devils Lake Corporation. “The added benefits from wind projects can truly make the difference between a company selecting a community for new business or moving onto another. Wind energy is driving new economic development in North Dakota and our leaders should continue supporting it well into the future.”

“Wind energy in Tioga has added to the diversification of our local economy and fosters new and necessary community development,” said Dennis Lindahl, community development coordinator for Tioga Economic Development Corporation. “Wind projects can inject big investments in small towns and provide a vital source of revenue. During this American Wind Week, we celebrate the progress of this energy source and look forward to the continued prospects of wind in northwestern North Dakota.”

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