Industrial wind – estimating local labor content.

Having spent a number of years in project related work, construction workers are high on my list of folks to respect.  The work is difficult, demanding and dangerous.  So don’t let anything I write here be implied as a reflection on them.

Such jobs are critical and every effort to put folks to work should be considered.  Some, like me however, don’t see wind as a viable, reliable energy source and view the use of “potential” jobs as a red herring in the whole argument about industrial wind’s place in future energy solutions.  Many simply believe the outlandish tax credits and subsidies provided the wind LLCs would be better spent on construction projects that provide real economic growth and, as a result, long term jobs.  So, when I hear job numbers tossed around, I think it’s fair to ask for a little clarification.

For example, the number of construction jobs for the Pinnacle Wind Farm at New Page (Mineral County, WV) under development by US WindForce is estimated to be, depending on the source, more than 100131, or 150/200.  It is interesting to note that West Virginia regulators said the project will create 275 local construction jobs and about 15 permanent jobs.  Now, how in the world did they come up with that number?

In June of 2009, US WindForce’s David Friend “estimated 150-200 workers would be needed during the construction phase, which is expected to take nine months to a year.”  For me, 150/200 jobs over a time period is a meaningless measure unless converted to labor (man) hours.  And there is, of course, a way to get to that number, if you have a few additional facts.

Take a look on page two of the schedule here and we’ll pick up on the other side.  Note that the schedule is a snapshot in time and to get to the current and most accurate schedule go to the Gantt Chart link on the US WindForce site:

The schedule confirms the 9 to 12 months from mobilization to completion, and, as with any construction project there is some overlap.  A fair portion of the work however is sequential.  I imagine that the foundation people need to be out of the way before the crane operators, riggers and assemblers show up, and they, in turn, will need to move over a little for the electricians, etc.  That being the case, what does the 150/200 worker number so readily tossed about translate to, in real labor content?

For me, the best measure of labor content in a project is labor (man) hours.  I imagine someone estimated the labor hours to prepare cost estimates during the bid phase.  And now, since the WV PSC approval last month and Mr. Friend’s indication that he’s raring to go, these labor numbers should have firmed up considerably.  So now I think we’re far enough along to estimate labor content by discipline and roll up an estimate of total labor hours to provide a more realistic presentation of labor.

Granted, if I’m the only knucklehead who thinks leaving numbers like 150/200 workers and 9 to 12 months dangling out there together might paint a slightly rosier picture than exists in reality, especially when repeated so often in the press, you should just ignore this post.  But if seeing actual labor (man) hours helps others understand more about the actual labor contribution to be received from the project in order to make a better assessment of the projects value to the community in terms of labor, it might be worth putting that number along side the 150/200 and 9 to 12.

I know cost issues are proprietary, but I’m not asking that the cost of labor be published.  Since however, wind developers were so eager to publish labor as a sales point in terms of “X jobs for Y months,” I think it’s fair that when they are able to clarify the claim in real terms, they simply do so.  After all, what’s the harm?

This entry was posted in Industrial wind jobs, Pinnacle Wind Force LLC, US WindForce and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Industrial wind – estimating local labor content.

  1. Allegheny Front Alliance says:

    Thanks Allegheny Treasures…for sharing this report….and the comments.

    Remember to recognize the number of jobs that the wind industry offers.

    When US Wind Farce throws out these wonderful job numbers, it is important to ask how many permanent jobs are directly related to the operation and maintenance of the industrial wind project.

    • Direct jobs are accrue largely to the proposed wind project
    • Indirect jobs accrue to a broader set of economic sectors (such as the clerk that sells the worker gasoline)
    • Induced jobs are the impacts of the workers wage expenditure from the income earned or indirectly affected wind industry.

    Also are they offering full time or part time jobs. Many jobs will be contractual, maintenance crews hired by the company Edison Mission Energy (Not US Wind Force). US Wind force can claim we have not control how the company will hire. US Wind Force is selling the ‘entire project bucket’

    If the Pinnacle Knob Project creates 6 for 23 projects, do the math. Six (6) workers / 23 turbines = one worker for every 4 turbines. This will not happen.

    But wait (as the late Paul Harvey would say) According to a submitted reported submitted by WV Workforce Investment Council, for WV Green-Up – Partnership to Support Energy Sector Education and Training , only “one technician is needed for 7 turbines”. (Source, p 4 WorkForce WV GREEN-UP Technical Proposal)

    Take bets that US Wind Force will only be hiring is 3-4 employee not 15 persons.

    There are 132 turbines at the Ned Power Project. Have you seen one job for a turbine technician advertised in the Cumberland Times News, Mineral County Daily News, Hampshire Review, Grant County Press, or the Moorefield Examiner?

    AFA knows of no project hearing (AES New Creek, Pinnacle, Dan’s Mountain) did a technical crew or individual has testified about these jobs.

    Think about what US Wind Farce said in a community meeting on March 4 2009, (Source Cumberland Times News: )

    “Monday’s panel discussion included questions of job creation and whether local residents would be hired to construct and maintain the turbines”.

    “Friend said they hire contractors who go through the local union halls, hiring about 100 local workers. After construction is completed, a handful of employees does regular maintenance on the turbines.”

    “Cookman said while some jobs come directly from the company, there would still be benefits to area businesses. When the project had a need to replace hydraulic hoses on one of its cranes at another site, the hoses had been regularly purchased from a nearby store. “

    Hisssssssssssssss….Sounds like US Wind Force is leaking Hot Air from their hydraulic hot air hose, hoping to fooling the public.

  2. Allegheny Front Alliance says:

    How Much Labor and How Long? Are you really sure?

    While US Wind Force indicates a 9-12 month project completion period, it is important to recognize how quickly the projects are developed. But also to reconize how quickly things can turn sour.

    Follow how quickly the Beechridge Project developed.

    Industiral Wind represents high costs with low social benefits.

    TheBeechridge project construction begins on May 9, 2009

    Watch these aerial and ground views of Greenbrier County West Virginia including photos of the beginning of construction of the Beech Ridge Energy LLC (Invenergy) wind turbine project.

    This video taken in May and June and the company started clearing brush, grading land and building a gravel road that will allow trucks to haul wind turbine parts up the mountains.

    When the project was halted on December 9, 2009,
    there were forty turbines erected and foundations for twenty-seven lay waiting.

    Follow the timeline:

    Spring and Summer 2009
    Construction begins on Phase I. Forest is cleared, roads built, and concrete foundations are poured for 67 turbines. An Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) lawsuit is filed on June 10. Forty turbines are erected per an agreement between the parties, while another twenty-seven lay waiting for the federal lawsuit to determine if this project’s operations will violate section 9 of the ESA.

    October 21st, 2009
    Judge Titus (US District Court) hears four days of testimony by renown bat experts testifying on behalf of plaintiffs (including MCRE), culminating with closing arguments.. At trial, plaintiffs argue that the endangered Indiana Bat is present at the site of the Beech Ridge Wind Project and is likely to be affected by its construction and operation via deaths and/or injuries.

    December 8th, 2009
    The federal court enjoins the Beech Ridge Project from going forward until it has received an Incidental Take Permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Further, the 40 turbines that have already been constructed may only operate when Indiana Bats are in hibernation from November 15th – April 1st.

    December 22nd , 2009
    Beech Ridge Developers request that Judge Titus reconsider allowing the remaining 27 Phase I turbines to be erected while they pursue their Incidental Take Permit, and further request that turbine operation prior to obtaining a permit be expanded to allow for daytime operation during spring, summer, and fall when Indiana bats are not likely on the landscape.

    January 26th, 2010
    Plaintiffs MCRE, Animal Welfare Institute, and Dave Cowan agree not to oppose Beech Ridge Developer’s reconsideration request to allow daytime turbine operation and additional turbine construction if Beech Ridge Developers agree to:
    1. Abandon forever the 20 easternmost turbine sites (C and D lines) in Phase II of the project (planed for 2010) due to their proximity to caves known to contain Indiana Bats.
    2. Abandon forever the 10 southernmost turbine sites (A 1-10) which will include decommissioning the concrete foundations poured in 2009.
    3. Develop an adaptive management program with the appropriate federal agency to mitigate the effects of turbine operations on endangered bats and other wildlife.

    It is important for developers and investors recognize the Federal courts take serious the Endangered Species Act.

    Why have companies invest in poorly managed, improperly planned projects. This is a deservice to the American worker.

    AFA believes that US Wind Force lacks the expertise and leadership to properly plan.

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