Wind college in Texas

Texas State Technical College Wind Energy Technology instructor James Chung, center, helps Steven Vasquez, left, and Shayne Howard, right, troubleshoot during a lab on logic gates Tuesday, March 5, 2024 in Sweetwater.



Here on the eastern edge of the Permian Basin, stable paychecks and the chance to travel draw young people like Vasquez into the wind industry. And once Vasquez secures his associate’s degree in wind energy technology, he knows he has a good shot of finding a job in the field after college.

But qualified candidates like Vasquez are hard to come by. TSTC is the only school in the state that offers a wind technician program developed in close collaboration with wind energy firms. Colleges in other parts of the state told The Texas Tribune they haven’t seen enough interest from students in their areas to start their own wind-focused training programs. TSTC alone cannot churn out enough graduates to keep up with the wind industry’s growth — wind companies in Texas are expected to need about 700 more wind service turbine technicians by the end of next year.

Texas leaders have publicly committed to creating pipelines for Texans to join well-paying, high-demand fields, but the state has done little to funnel more young people into wind energy jobs. Political backing for the wind sector has waned in recent years as Texas Republicans have rushed to prop up the oil and gas industry. Notably, state lawmakers ended a program last year that gave wind companies a tax break in exchange for making investments in local schools, giving them a chance to introduce the idea of a career in the wind industry early in students’ lives.

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