Building Jobs With Renewable Energy

Companies are investing billions in renewable energy projects.

ByABC News
October 3, 2008, 4:46 PM

DENVER, Oct. 4, 2008— -- Just a few years ago, Bob Erbelding was building homes in Colorado. But he never thought he'd be building wind turbines.

Erbelding, 50, who works for the Denmark-based Vestas American Wind Technology, the world's largest manufacturer of wind turbines, says his business is part of an energy revolution that's changing the environment and the face of American industry.

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"I used to be a contractor, but the housing business really sloughed off and I was looking for a meaningful job that would supply my family with a good income and great benefits," he said.

Colorado is considered a global leader in the industry of renewable energy.

"The baton is being handed off from the traditional 19th and 20th century industries," said Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. "The baton is being handed off to a 21st century industry: Renewables."

Wind, solar and geothermal energy sources are gaining unprecedented ground, not just as environmentally sound concepts, but as booming green industries.

Roby Roberts, the vice president of Vestas, said that, by 2010, his company will have invested $600 million in turbine manufacturing plants like the one in Windsor, Colo.

"We're breaking all-time records right now," said Roberts. "I think people are starting to wake up and say, 'Wow, this is really for real.'"

"We have made [renewable energy] our signature piece in Colorado from a business perspective," Ritter said. "This country has such potential to build-out a renewable energy industry. And we have so much potential to increase the kinds of jobs that can be associated with it."

Vestas will employ 2,500 people at four factories in Colorado by 2010. For small towns like Windsor, it's a windfall. In less than a decade, the global industry of renewable energy is projected to explode from a $150-billion-a-year industry to a $600-billion-a-year industry.

"We're at a tipping point in terms of infrastructure and in terms of commitment to really changing the way our future energy economy will grow," said Dan Arvizu, director of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.