Eric Heckert - What it's like being a wind turbine technician

Eric Heckert
Eric Heckert is a technician in the US

1) What is your current role?

I’m a commissioning technician with Alpha Wind Services onshore in the US. This involves being onsite during the final stages of a project when systems are installed and tested. I inspect the correct functioning of the equipment and carryout troubleshooting and repairs when needed.

2) How long have you been a wind turbine technician for?

I’ve been working with Alpha since February 2020 but in the wind power industry since around 2007. I’d taken a break from the wind power industry for a few years to go back to higher education, but the University changed the degree program and I saw an advert on LinkedIn for Alpha so decided to get in touch. Then the Covid restrictions came in so it took a while before I could get onsite but eventually, I was able to go and do my Global Wind Organisation (GWO) training required for getting onsite.

3) What first interested you in working with wind turbines?

Around 2007 I wanted to get out of working in the oilfield and I’ve always felt that having a diverse set of skills is valuable. The wind power industry provided a new opportunity in a different energy sector.

4) Have you had other roles previously and what skills have helped you working in wind turbine maintenance?

Prior to the wind power industry, I was working for Halliburton cementing in casing for newly drilled wells.

A lot of the mechanical skills from that job were transferrable to what I’m doing now. I was also an Aviation Ordanancemen in the Navy where I gained knowledge of hydraulics which has been a great asset as most turbines have a hydraulic pitch system.

5) What is a typical workday like?

I work alongside a teammate from the OEM and we go through the process of commissioning turbines. We install equipment, run diagnostic tests and work out any errors or bugs in preparation for making the wind turbine run and produce power. I always thought commissioning was more fun and interesting - you run into different things and learn more about these machines in the process, so you know what to look for in the future.

I’ve mainly been working on Megawatt turbines and the newer platforms on various sites, I’m currently at a repower project commissioning older turbines that were repowered into new modern turbines with better efficiency and higher output. After this site is up and running, I am slated to go back to my previous site for the same OEM.

6) What advice would you give someone looking to start a career in the wind industry?

My advice to anyone wanting to get into wind power maintenance is to study electrical engineering and become knowledgeable in hydraulic and mechanical engineering as well.

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