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March 16th, 2009
11:14 PM ET

Can a little wind help cure the economy?

Technicians climb wind turbines in Tehachapi, CA.
Technicians climb wind turbines in Tehachapi, CA.
Wind Turbines in Tehachapi, CA.
Wind Turbines in Tehachapi, CA.

Paul Vercammen
CNN Senior Producer

Tehachapi, California. It blows here, hard enough it seems to strip feathers from chickens, or stiff enough to straighten out in two minutes some housewife's curly hairdo that took two hours to coif.

As local legend goes, they started wind power up here in the early 1980s, building crude erector sets with propellers and converting all that spinning into energy.

Tehachapi is about a two hour-drive North of Los Angeles and a cultural divide away.

People here don't ride in black Limos. They drive dusty trucks.

They don't take a dip in the Pacific. They dip chewing tobacco.

Mike Mesier is VP for Operations and Training for Airstreams, a company that trains folks to fix wind turbines.
Mike Mesier is VP for Operations and Training for Airstreams, a company that trains folks to fix wind turbines.

Tehachapi and neighboring hamlets are full of McGyvers, men and women who can fix anything and create art with a screwdriver.

They say Mike Goldsworthy can make a cabinet so useful and beautiful, you can admire your image in the reflection on the outside, and on the inside store the china and the plastic cups from concession stand.

But when the economy tanked, cabinetmaking became a luxury. Goldsworthy couldn't find a job so he threw caution to the relentless wind and started climbing.

Now this craftsman who owns mules and horses tends to his wind turbines up in the air, making sure the herds of them that dot these hills are healthy.

"Look out my office window," laughs Goldsworthy, standing on a hill carpeted with grass that's mid-March green and lined with wind turbines that sing when the blowing brings them to life.

"It's fantastic. Who would not want to work out here in the air. You got 360 degree views. Beautiful weather. Sunshine. Occasionally you get snowed on. No biggie."

Well if the recovery needs to officially start somewhere, why not here in the rolling, wind-whipped hills with Goldsworthy.

Some predict in 20 years, 20 percent of America's electricity demands will be provided by wind which means more Mike Goldsworthy-types are needed.

There's more wind turbines to be built.

And for anyone anywhere who ever cursed the wind in their backyard for rattling the windows or snapping the flag, there could be something in there for them - a job.


Filed under: Economy • Energy • Paul Vercammen • Road to Rescue
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Larry L.

    We need instant gratification--what are we getting ?Some predict in 20 years, 20 percent of America’s electricity demands will be provided by wind which means more Mike Goldsworthy-types are needed.WOW !!!

    March 17, 2009 at 9:29 am |
  2. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Harvesting the wind as a source of energy---it will assist in conservation of energy consumption--however, we need to explore solar, chemical and water concepts in producing alternative sources for energy use---we need to stop working harder--and start working smarter.

    March 17, 2009 at 8:59 am |
  3. Rob Capp

    Hey Anderson,
    I live in Los Angeles and don't feel any sympathy for anyone who voted for Prop.8 who has been laid off or struggling to make ends meat during this economic crisis. This is because gay marriages would have pumpled over $350, 000,000 into the state's economy. But these people thought it was more important to single out a minority group and discriminate against them by changing the constitution instead. How Shameful!

    March 17, 2009 at 1:00 am |
  4. Luis

    I'm all for green technology. I think it would help by lowering the inflation risk this country is heading towards. When Oil spikes, the cost of everything in this country goes up. Thats a given. I don't think oil is bad, but having a variety of energy sources is good for everyone.

    I don't believe that the government shouldn't push this green energy policies. If we want alternative energies, the money needs to come from private investment. This should not be subsidized or anything by the U.S. government.

    But again, we should be missing with the free markets. The markets needs to settle it by itself. When the government gets involved in the markets, it only leads to trouble.

    March 17, 2009 at 12:19 am |
  5. Alex (Aliso Viejo)

    Yeah..good point. All natural and free. Rolling hills and wind turbines. I also love Tehachapi. Quiet get away.

    March 17, 2009 at 12:19 am |
  6. Donna

    Yes!

    March 16, 2009 at 11:51 pm |
  7. MIke

    They need to set one of these wind generators in front of AIG with all the wind and hot air they are blowing the country and taxpayers with.

    March 16, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  8. Mary Schwindt

    I am very excited about wind energy. We live in central KS, in the wind corridor that Boone Pickens talks about. We've been approached about leasing idle farm land for wind energy production. I have to think this IS the wave of the future. It appears that the people who want to work in this industry better be prepared to climb high. Next step will be a grid to carry the energy to the coasts.

    March 16, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  9. KIm

    Has congress opened the wind corridors ? I love seeing this in progress ! We have factories empty in NC but no wind ! How about we build the turbine parts and sending them to ya !

    March 16, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  10. Franky

    Alright, sounds good, I'll take it, I'll take it, LOL!

    March 16, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  11. William of Iowa

    I've been researching wind power for residential use in my homestate. The charges for equipment and installation run in the neighborhood of $12,000.00 to $18,000.00 depending on the unit and tower height. The state of Iowa and now the federal government through "green" allowances would reduce the price by nearly one half the total. The unit I've looked at produces 400 kilowatts per month. I do believe that this would be a worthy investment. Oh, I've discovered that there are only three companies available in my state that provide services.

    March 16, 2009 at 9:09 pm |
  12. Don, WA

    I grew up in the columbia river gorge. The strong winds come from the east there. They funnel from the eastern high desert into the gorge where they become hurricanes. It's a windsurfing mecca, and when the windsurfers get air off the wind waves of the river, they stay up there a long time. The high trees are permanantly bent over there along the cliffs of the gorge – it's pure energy. Fill the sails, spin the props, and light the bulbs I say.

    March 16, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  13. Annie Kate

    Nice to read about an American green success story. Mike and his wind turbines set a good example to the rest of us to get out there and harness what other renewable sources of energy we have. Not everyone can build a wind turbine but even the least talented of us can help lobbying for more efforts in our local and state and even federal government to build wind turbines, or use solar power, or geothermal power to fill our energy needs and quit issuing permits for more coal fired power plants.

    March 16, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  14. Mari

    We need to think outside the box. We need our government to be visionary, to give up the "old tired" ways and move us in a new more prosperous direction.

    Green energy could be the next big thing!

    March 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm |
  15. Sherry, N. Calif.

    I am all for the wind, sun, and clean air! Before anything will help- I really believe we need to fix the system not the cause. I am pleased with the Recovery Act and what it will eventually succed to do.FIRST we need to fix the financial system, the loopholes, cheats and liars continue their tasks. Down it will all come again.

    March 16, 2009 at 7:01 pm |
  16. Mike, Zephyrhills, FL

    Wind, Solar, geothermal etc... is all wonderful.

    However Utility companies are asking for rate increases now to offset future revenue losses and telling consumers that Solar and Wind are more expensive than coal or gas. Guess getting free sun and wind is now subject to greedy corporations as well.

    Americans never get a break, its always more and more and get less.

    March 16, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  17. Jim

    There have been wind turbines in that area for over 10 years- just west of Mojave. So Why have there not been more built allready? it's due to State Government B.S. M. S. & P.H.D.( B.S.= Steer Manure- M.S.= More of the same & -P.H.D.= Piled Higher & deeper.!)

    March 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  18. carmen tickal

    Come to Iowa! We have the perfect landscape for wind turbines and they are cropping up like mushrooms on a hot humid day!! Turbines are one of the few high paying jobs left around here if one can handle the job. Its hard work, worse in the winter. But it pays well. Still the companies have a hard time filling the jobs.come to Iowa if you don't mind hard work at 320 feet in the air.

    March 16, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  19. Becca

    So, how does one go about all this? Louisville gets enough wind–Hurricane Ike alone probably could have powered our neighborhoods for a year–that this should be a viable option for us. Can it start with individuals or is this sort of venture too costly for single family or single neighborhood financing?

    More importantly, for those us in need of jobs and who laughingly chose liberal arts degrees instead environmental or mechanical engineering, will we be trained? Or dismissed out of hand?

    Oh, and it's MacGyver. Not McGyver.

    March 16, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  20. Dave Johnston

    YES!

    March 16, 2009 at 4:55 pm |