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By Emily Clingman-Johnson
When the poor economy took a toll on his carpentry career a few years ago, Nick Ruble decided to get out the business and try his hand at something new.
“I wanted to do something that was good for the planet; something that would make me feel better about what I do every day,” Ruble said.
He heard that Vestas, a Denmark based wind power company planning to expand its operations to Colorado, was hiring. Ruble saw this as an opportunity to make a career move so he applied for a position with the company. With skills in carpentry, auto body and painting and leadership, Ruble turned out to be a prime candidate.
“It may have taken them eight months to contact me,” he said. “But once they did, the rest is history.”
Ruble was hired into Vestas’ Windsor, CO production plant more than two years ago as a production worker and repairman of wind turbines. When you ask him about his job, he’s more than enthusiastic. He loves the work and took it upon himself to learn everything he could about alternative energy. He’ll spout off statistics and figures without hesitation.
“The United States uses 25 percent of the world’s natural resources but only produces two percent.”
“Vestas has invested 2.2 billon dollars into Colorado.”
“One turbine – 300 feet high, with 145 foot long blades – can power 1,000 houses per hour.”
To say that he’s passionate about his field of work is probably an understatement. Convinced that wind power will save the planet, he’s eager to share his knowledge and enthusiasm with the community.
“Coal fire may seem cheaper to use because there is a lot of coal around here,” Ruble said. “But we know it’s a finite resource and will run out someday.”
He also points out that it destroys the environment and the ozone layer. Burning fossil fuels at extremely high temperatures – the primary way that electricity is produced – leads to heavy concentrations of pollutants in the air and water. Wind power generation produces zero carbon dioxide emissions. Wind energy is also a renewable energy, meaning it does not deplete natural resources like coal or petroleum based products.
“The carbon footprint of wind power has the lowest cost on the land,” Ruble said.
Can wind turbines power the entire country? Ruble sees that in the future.
“There is so much open space,” he said, “that yes, I believe that we can absolutely power everyone’s needs with wind power, especially if we use electric cars.”
A wind turbine can operate at its optimum potential in 22 miles per hour wind. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, average wind speeds across America range from 4 – 36mph, with the highest concentration of wind located in the mid-section of the country. An area of excellent resources, according to NREL, is located along the Wyoming border north of Fort Collins. The exposed ridge crests of the Front Range, the Continental Divide, and in western Colorado also have good-to-outstanding wind resource. Colorado alone has enough wind energy to supply nine percent of the electricity consumption for the lower 48 states.
Though there is a push from the government and American citizens to use renewable energy, transitioning into an entirely sustainable society is a tough sell, and not just economically.
“The problem is that we are not used to change,” Ruble said. “It will be a hardship to change an infrastructure – to change everybody’s minds. But we need to change. We need to get away from our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Depending on foreign resources is expensive and even dangerous, said Ruble. If the U.S. didn’t need oil from the Middle East or Venezuela, the threat of terrorism or war over oil would virtually cease. Since most of the oil America consumes is for automobiles, Ruble adamantly encourages citizens to consider electric cars.
“If you can’t afford an electric car, then try alternative transportation,” he said. “Ride your bike. Walk to Old Town. Use the transit system.”
Ruble practices what he preaches. He rides his bicycle as much as possible.
“Exercise is good for you anyway. Your own health is just as important as the planet,” he said.
Tips to Save Energy Today
• Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.
• Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
• Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
• Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
• Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use.
• Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°F.
• Take short showers instead of baths.
• Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
• Drive sensibly: Aggressive driving wastes gasoline.
• Look for the ENERGY STAR label on home appliances and products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Adapted from the U.S. Department of Energy’s website at www.energysavers.gov.