Growing up near Lethbridge, Alberta, Roger Murray tried a couple of education routes before applying to the Wind Turbine Technician program at Lethbridge College. That perseverance led to a career he loves.
Roger is one of five technicians at both the Magrath and Chin Chute wind farms, jointly owned by partners ACCIONA Wind Energy Canada Inc. (operator), Enbridge Wind Power General Partnership and Suncor.
Wind technicians are electricians who specialize in wind turbines. A few of the job specifics include:
- inspecting the exterior of the towers;
- climbing the towers to inspect, troubleshoot, or repair equipment;
- collecting turbine data for testing and analysis;
- performing routine maintenance;
- testing electrical components, systems, and mechanical and hydraulic systems; and
- replacing worn out or malfunctioning components.
Being mechanical and having an aptitude for working with your hands is important. Same goes for being comfortable working at heights and in tight spaces. Roger and his co-workers climb the inside of at least one tower per day. At Magrath, the turbines reach 65 metres in height, and at Chin Chute the structures are 80 m tall.
He’s honest about the first time he made the ascent. “I was really wondering what I’d signed up for,” he laughs. “Over time, I’ve come to respect the heights more and more and I’m comfortable in my safety equipment.”
To protect them, technicians wear fall protection, full body harnesses that are attached to the tower. Technicians also conduct regular emergency response exercises, as well as daily and monthly equipment checks.
It takes three to four minutes to climb to the top of a turbine with the help of a climb assist. If stormy weather is brewing, the technicians have a special alert on their phones that lets them know a storm is within a 50-kilometre radius. And if they need to evacuate a tower immediately, the technicians can safely descend in a matter of minutes using their safety gear.
When asked what he likes best about his job, Roger says the scenery at the top.
“There aren’t many people in the world who get to do what I do every day. It’s pretty spectacular.”