Elgin, Minnesota — Nick Schneider, a laborer out of Local 405 in southeastern Minnesota, says more Minnesotans should consider the benefits of wind energy — for both their source of electrical power and their future career plans.
Schneider’s seen enough wind turbine sites and builds across Minnesota and the greater Midwest region to advocate for the benefits they bring to communities and professionals in the construction field.
“At this point, I’ve worked on more than 1,000 turbines,” Schneider said. “I’ve been working on projects with Mortenson over the past 10 years and I respect the company’s focus on keeping workers educated and safe while identifying employment opportunities.”
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mortenson is an industry leader in pioneering the future of clean energy jobs in the fields of wind, solar, energy storage, power delivery, civil and O&M Services (solar operations and maintenance technical services.)
The company has built more than 200 wind projects across the nation.
Schneider’s Worksite: Wherever the Wind Takes Him
As a journeyworker working on wind energy sites, Schneider is familiar with reading turbine design and installation drawings and has stacked up certifications in fall protection and required safety procedures for climbing towers.
“My career is a natural fit for me — it’s the problem-solving, the teamwork, being outdoors and a commitment to getting the job done right that keeps me motivated,” Schneider said. “I’ve gotten to know so many great people over the years and I walk onto sites now and no doubt I’ll know somebody.”
For Schneider, working as a laborer has served as a rewarding career path with real benefits and long-term opportunities and growth. Growing up on a dairy farm in Elgin, Minnesota, just north of Rochester, Minn., Schneider learned the benefits of patience, hard work and determination — all skills he applies everyday as a laborer.
“I graduated from college and couldn’t see myself in the 9-5 cubicle life,” Schneider said. “I turned to hands-on jobs like landscaping before I finally tried out summer road work construction in a laborer position. It was great pay, and I loved working outside and moving around, so I stuck with it.”
Wind Energy – An Investment for the Future
Wind is an increasingly significant source of energy in Minnesota. As a major producer of wind energy, Minnesota ranks in the top 10 states in the nation for installed generating capacity and net generation from wind.
The Minnesota State Building and Construction Trades Council represents 15 building and construction unions and the more than 70,000 union construction workers who are responsible for building and maintaining the state’s energy infrastructure, including clean energy, such as wind and solar farms. The Council champions companies such as Mortenson, who hire skilled laborers such as Nick Schneider, who are helping Minnesota transition to a clean energy future.
Many of Minnesota’s wind farms are built around farmland, predominately in large areas of unproductive or less fertile prairie.
“I’ve been on many jobs where we are setting up turbines in rural farm fields,” Schneider said. “I see the need for everyone involved in building wind power to spread awareness about the benefits of wind power with local landowners and local communities.”
Schneider said he enjoys working with Mortenson because he feels the company does a good job of investing in each community it serves.
“We do cleanup around the site for weeks at a time. Nothing gets left behind. If there is damage to a gravel road, we fill it in and repair it,” Schneider said. “Mortenson goes beyond fixing the land and installing a new energy source. We give back directly to the community in other ways. I’ve participated in food drives; school supply runs and scholarship fundraisers — because we’re investing in more than just new energy. This is a long-term community impact we’re talking about.”
Schneider hopes these positive relationships between renewable energy companies and residents will continue to develop.
“I always appreciate it when people are welcoming and take the time to see that we always leave the site better than we found it,” Schneider said.
Schneider emphasized that Minnesota has the landscape to be successful in renewable energy in the long term.
“Out here, every 10-15 years we might have to replace the blades or re-scale them. But that just represents the technology getting better and continues to create job opportunities for me,” said Schneider, who has worked on five wind energy projects in Minnesota, ranging in size from just 30 turbines to hundreds of turbines.
“It’s easy to support the renewable energy future of our state once you research the benefits of renewable power and see firsthand the long-term careers it generates in construction, maintenance and repair,” Schneider said. “These jobs belong to local Minnesotans, to union workers — and they are positively shaping our state’s energy future.”