Dakota Plains Energy Blog

South Dakota Wind Tech Graduate Excels Elsewhere

15193521_10207696493272734_8497521744994119987_n It’s not very often you meet someone from your home state – not to mention your home town of Aberdeen, S.D. population 27,000+ people. Two like-minded wind energy proponents had the chance to sit down and chat about the renewable energy industry.  Matthew Crane, 36, grew up in a small town in South Dakota – where renewable energy today is greatly underutilized as a green resource.  We sat down with him and had a great discussion regarding his career as an Advanced Maintenance and Large Corrective Regional Supervisor for Gamesa’s North American region:  www.gamesa.corp.com.   Here’s what Matthew had to say:

NJ: How would you describe a day’s work?

MC: “First in, Last out” – that is the motto I live by. This motto is the work ethic that I directly attribute to my upbringing in the Midwest and to my military background.  My days are long, but very rewarding.  I take great pride in making sure all aspects of the day’s operations are checked, re-checked, verified, and cleared for safe operational standards of completion.  This allows me to gauge the progress made and get all paperwork completed to stay current on data pertaining to the operation.  Also, it keeps actionable data in real time for my projected completion date.


NJ: Why did you decide to attend Mitchell Tech Institute (MTI)?  Can you tell me what motivated you to go into the renewable energy field?

MC: I saw renewable energy as the future in helping to offset the issues facing current energy collection practices.  I chose to attend MTI after researching the various wind turbine technology specific educational institutions. The fact that the school was located in the state that I grew up in was a huge plus.  MTI by far had the best program – in addition to having their own GE 1.6 MW turbine that allowed for the students to get real world understanding and application.


NJ: How many students were in your class at MTI?   How many graduates went on to work in the wind industry locally? 

MC: We started with about 30 students,  yet approximately 17 graduated.  100% of the students that graduated are working in the wind industry, but none work in South Dakota.  Those that dropped out did so because they weren’t up for the challenge of this demanding course.


NJ: When you attended MTI did you want to stay in South Dakota for work?

MC:  At the time, it was not a huge priority for me due to thinking about my long term career. My future career, for me, was to take a position with an international company.  But, if the opportunities open up in South Dakota, it would be great. However, there are currently more wind farms in other states.


NJ: You often work in Iowa, but not South Dakota – why?

MC: I work quite a bit in Iowa, as well as Minnesota, Illinois, and Kansas. This is mainly due to our company providing O&M services to so many wind farms in those states.  However, because of a variety of market forces, there are more wind farms and wind industry related job opportunities in these states.


NJ: What is a challenge with the industry today as you travel state to state?

MC:  The wind technology is a relatively new industry albeit growing rapidly, the primary issue would be the worker’s level of qualifications.  This is directly related to the schooling/training that each worker has received.  There are programs that do a fast track 6 month certification – which only puts graduates and hiring companies at a disadvantage.


NJ: What is the most exciting aspect of your field of work?

MC: At first it was the pure adrenaline of working 300+ feet in the air. However, now I find the challenges of project logistics exciting.  This entails getting the cranes onsite and assembled, component movement and offload, and supervising the crew that will perform the component replacement operations.  Managing the projects safely, effectively, and efficiently is very important as well.


Well, there you have it… a local South Dakotan MTI graduate who loves his work in the wind industry.  I learned quite a bit from having this conversation with Matthew.  One thing is for sure – his passion for wind energy is certainly a breath of fresh air here in my home state.  He has wonderful stories to tell both photographically and from his experience traveling the country.  We here at Dakota Plains Energy appreciate Matthew’s ability to push forward, and someday we hope that South Dakota has the wind projects necessary to bring him home.



Nicole Johnson

Managing Director

Dakota Plains Energy & Dakota Plains Companies