It’s been a tough year for all sorts of industries in western North Dakota.
Oil country in North Dakota has seen better days. Thanks to the coronavirus, almost 10,000 energy industry workers have lost their jobs, according to state records.
“We’re working very hard to diversify our economy,” said Dennis Lindahl.
Lindahl is the economic development director for the city of Tioga. He says the community has been impacted by business closures and lost income from fewer workers, but the impact of the pandemic has been softened by the building of more wind turbines.
“We are anticipating and looking at some outmigration. There have been a lot of layoffs in the oil industry so a lot of people have left the territory, left the area. And so we have these wind farm employees really at a time when we need them,” added Lindahl.
Enel Green Power North America, which owns and operates the Lindahl Wind Farm, is expanding, adding 71 new turbines to its fleet.
“We are currently building a second wind farm. The Aurora project,” said Jordan Huston, site manager.
Huston says it will take about 15-20 people to build each unit. That amounts to over a thousand short-term jobs. The project is slated to be complete in a few years, but even after that, he says there will still be job opportunities.
Huston added, “We’ll have roughly 20 technicians inhouse that will be working and maintaining those turbines. As well as another five or six in the managerial role.”
Lindahl says even if a majority of the jobs are temporary, it will still give a boost to Tioga’s economy at just the right time.
“While they are building these wind farms there are opportunities for hotels and restaurants, and we’re very excited to try and meet those needs,” added Lindahl.
Enel has also donated more than $50,000 to fund a STEM program at Tioga, where a lot of their employees have graduated from