RENEW Energy’s Partnership with Technical Colleges and Universities

Strategic workforce planning involves having the right people with the right skills at the right time.  Partnering with technical colleges and universities throughout the nation has proven to be a successful talent acquisition strategy for RENEW, opening a large and diverse applicant pool. 

Tasia Dass, Senior Recruiter, and Micah Noteboom, Technical Recruiter, are two of RENEW’s “People Leaders” dedicated to expanding these relationships and programs. 

Tasia and Micah partner with operations managers to develop a recruitment calendar, where they divide and conquer to attend career fairs, give employer introductions, conduct on-site interviews, host shop tours, and sponsor events across a network of schools.  These activities allow students to get to know the brands, comprehensive service offerings, and career opportunities across all TAKKION companies. 

Having both human resources and operations present at these events sets RENEW up for successful interactions.  HR can tell the story, showcase key openings, and get students excited about the differences they can make in the energy sector, while operations can speak to the technical specifics and what “a day in the life of a wind (or) solar technician” really looks like.   

“The opportunities for these students are endless, but the schools themselves benefit from the partnership as well,” Dass said. “Our leadership team has served on a number of advisory boards and helped provide industry-specific standards to be incorporated into their curriculum.  Our summer industry event raises between $10-$15K annually to give back to local technical colleges for workforce development.”

Through these social connections across the nation, RENEW averages 20-30 interns per year. Noteboom shared, “Our internship program is mutually beneficial to the student and our company.  We are able to see if they would be a good cultural and technical fit once they finish school.  While on the flip side, the student can also get a feel for our industry, the job scope, and determine whether that’s a career fit for them in the long run.”

Interns get paired with seasoned technicians for mentorship, safety, and hands-on experience.  Once the internship (typically three (3) months in duration or coinciding with the respective school schedule) is complete, managers work with HR to determine which individuals will receive a full-time offer.  “We have multiple team members in managerial roles that have started as interns with our company.  It’s exciting to see their growth and development first-hand,” Dass said.  “Our strong and positive reputation in the industry, along with our employee referrals, helps spark a ton of interest in our internship and career opportunities.”

As customer needs change, so does workforce planning.  As new facilities are built, new potential partnerships are identified.  Most recently, the addition of RENEW Enid Remanufacturing has created some new, exciting partnerships for building the future workforce in Oklahoma. 

RENEW Energy – Update on New Remanufacturing Center in Enid, Oklahoma

RENEW Energy has recently undertaken a new project in Enid, Oklahoma – the construction of a 44,000 square feet remanufacturing center, designed to perform gearbox and main shaft repairs for wind towers.  

This is just one of RENEW’s latest innovations in the world of wind energy as it continues to lead the way for wind and solar power maintenance. 

Enid, Oklahoma, has long served RENEW as a hotbed of wind and solar energy innovations, which made the construction of this new facility a no-brainer when it came to the ‘Where’ of it all. 

“We’re in the heart of the U.S. as far as wind energy goes,” said Greg Haub, the Project Manager for the new facility. “We’ll be putting up a building that’s 44,000 square feet of space and it’s a fully climate-controlled building. The total building capacity, as far as cranes go, is 200 tons. It’s a 200 ton-capacity building, which is actually pretty rare. We can lift 200 tons at one time, 100 tons at each bay. Currently, there are no facilities in the United States that can do what this facility will be able to do.”

Additionally, the facility will feature a 7-megawatt test stand for gearboxes. 

“TP&L already had the complex in Enid,” said Gary Cavigielli, the Vice President of Remanufacturing and R&D for RENEW Energy. “We are installing a seven-megawatt test stand, which would be the largest in the United States to continue being a leader within the industry with all of the larger platforms that are going to become available to us. It’s all about being able to take care of our customers.”

The building will also have its own office space, consisting of about 4,800 square feet as well, making it a fully-functional and operational remanufacturing facility.

Haub was hired in April of 2022 to oversee this project. RENEW broke ground with a golden shovel ceremony in October of that same year and real construction began in January of 2023.

“We’ve got three quarters of the building pad (the area upon which future buildings or structures are constructed) complete and another fourth to go,” Haub offered. “Probably within the next couple of weeks we’ll finish the slabs and start setting steel in the next week.”

Haub said that the goal is to have the facility operational by the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year. 

RENEW is partnering with Henson Construction for this project, which will employ up to 40 people or more. 

“One thing about RENEW is that they’re very good about working with the local companies and trying to grow the local community and local economy with their business concepts,” Haub shared. “It’s of great importance to all of us that we have local people involved in the project.” 

This aspect is so important to RENEW that they are partnering with the Autry Technical Center, a tech school located in Enid, to actually begin developing a training program for future employees. 

“They already have an electromechanical course, and we’re hoping to expand on that and make it somewhat specific to the wind industry; with gear boxes and main shaft work,” said Mike Feltman, the Director of Engineering and R&D for RENEW. “We’ll use that as a stepping stone for employees to learn the basics and then come into the company on a full-time basis.”

The project will offer multiple jobs and it will serve as an all-in-one facility to rebuild the two main components of wind turbines. 

“The purpose of this facility is to act as a one-stop shop to remanufacture wind turbines,” Haub said. “Being able to offer this to customers, to be able to handle the maintenance when breakdowns happen, from anywhere in the United States, in one central location is huge. You’ve got to have a company that is able to support wind turbines and offer service, and that’s what RENEW is doing. It’s a full-service, one-stop shop for wind turbines.” To find out more about the new Remanufacturing Facility in Enid, Oklahoma, or to learn more about all of the other services that RENEW Energy offers, visit the RENEW website or check out the TAKKION Facebook page.

RENEW – Specialty Services

If you can dream it, class 02 can do it.  RENEW’s Specialty Services division, known as “class 02”, is leading the industry in innovation.  They specialize in highly complex, highly technical repair solutions.  

RENEW customers can count on this team for complete turnkey solutions for component replacement, repair, or supply.  Their specialties include: uptower planetary solutions, gearbox repair, large corrective solutions, infield/uptower machining, diagnostics, main bearing flushing, inspections, engineered improvements and more.  

What sets class 02 apart from the competition is their mechanically inclined technicians and experienced project managers.  Their management team has 65 years of combined industry experience, not including their tenured lead technicians.  Every employee is inducted into an in-house technical training and certification program.  It’s because of their unique skillsets and quality workmanship that our customers keep calling.    

There are currently 14 crews (led by four project managers) deployed and performing work across the nation.  These project managers are dedicated to specific customers.  Assigning one point person has proven very successful in managing projects and provides customers with an avenue for consistent communication throughout the entirety of the project.  Dan Creegan, RENEW’s Director of Specialty Services, expects to see their headcount grow to 100 technicians by the end of the year. 

The Specialty Services team are the pioneers of creative ideas for minimizing costs/maximizing efficiency and have seen many of their concepts through from conception to completion.  In partnership with the engineering and quality control teams, they have custom-designed a wide variety of specialty tooling and fixtures in-house.  Three mobile repair shops have also been built and deployed, saving our customers money, and minimizing downtime. Their team was the first to do uptower planet carrier swaps and are the industry’s sole provider of in-field bearing bore machining.  Multiple bearing exchanges have been completed that the manufacturers said were not possible. 

Another effective strategy class 02 has implemented is the addition of a weekly “all hands-on deck” scheduling call. Topics of discussion include where crews are being deployed, job scopes, lessons learned, what’s working, what’s causing problems, and quality/safety concerns.  Tooling needs and ideas are also shared during this meeting.  It creates an open forum to talk about operational efficiencies and what is necessary for each job to be successful. 

“We have turned this service line into a “well-oiled machine,”’ Creegan stated. “I’m very proud of the team and all we have been able to accomplish over the years.” 

RENEW – Enid Remanufacturing Center

Constantly leading the way for wind power maintenance, RENEW Energy is currently building a new Remanufacturing Center in Enid, Oklahoma. 

Strategically located, the facility will be in close proximity to numerous industrial-scale wind farms in the heart of the North American wind corridor. This location will reduce transportation, as well as storage costs. It will also minimize delivery time when customers experience an unscheduled component failure.

“Essentially, the purpose of this facility in Enid is to rebuild two different components [of wind turbines],” said Mike Feltman, the Director of Engineering and R&D for RENEW Energy. “One component will be the main shafts of the wind turbine, and the other component is the gearbox. And a lot of people don’t understand how big these things are. Gear boxes are 36,000 pounds and the main shafts are 26,000 to 30,000 pounds.” 

Speaking of size, this new facility will feature 50,000 sq. ft of temperature and humidity-controlled workspace. It will consist of a 7MW gearbox load test bench, and a 100T bridge crane capacity. 

“The Enid facility is going to do complete teardowns of gear boxes” Feltman said. “They’ll do a full analysis report that will then go to the site’s owner – the parent company or the power company or whomever – and it will explain the damages that were found and what needs to be replaced. Then, along with that, we’ll get a quote to refurbish, repair, and rebuild that gearbox back to OEM specifications, and even make some improvements as well.” 

The goal is to perform these tasks in a way that is efficient, safe and cost effective for turbine owners.

“TP&L already had the complex in Enid,” said Gary Cavigielli, the Vice President of Remanufacturing and R&D for RENEW Energy. “We are installing a seven-megawatt test stand, which would be the largest in the United States to continue being a leader within the industry with all of the larger platforms that are going to become available to us. It’s all about being able to take care of our customers.” 

Feltman stated that the industry is lending itself to using larger and larger wind turbines. Because of this, the Enid facility is being created to handle the construction of current turbines, but it’s also preparing to build larger turbines in the future. 

“Currently, in our Sioux Falls facility, we have a three-megawatt test stand,” Feltman said. “The Enid facility’s test stand is going to be a seven-megawatt stand. RENEW’s Enid facility is targeted towards the future machines. Obviously, we’ll start with machines that we’re already repairing in that facility, but it’s really kind of tailored and targeted more for the future – for five or seven or eight years from now. That’s kind of the core concept of what the facility is supposed to be sized for.” 

Cavigielli said that construction has already started on the new facility. 

“They have the dirt work done today,” he said. “They should be starting to pour the foundations either next week or the week after that which will keep everything on track to have the new facility put up by the time the testing equipment shows up in the first part of August.”

Cavigelli said that the plan is to hopefully be at least semi-operational by the fourth quarter of 2023. 

According to Feltman, a big reason why they decided to build this facility in Enid, Oklahoma is because it is centrally located. It’s in the middle of the ‘Wind Corridor,’ which means that it can work with wind farm owners from Texas, California, Wyoming, North Dakota, and more. 

One of the major factors of this new Enid facility is the number of jobs that it will create. Cavigielli stated that he will be going to Enid to begin interviewing potential new hires. They’ve already hired some technicians, who are now training at the facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

“Once everything is in place and once we get the facility operational, we’ll be hiring a lot more people,” he stated. “I don’t know exact timelines, but we’re probably looking at having at least 40 new hires coming on – maybe even up to 90 if we get to the point where we get a second shift up and running down there.” 

RENEW is partnering with the Autry Technical Center – a tech school in Enid, to begin developing a training program for potential employees. 

“They already have an electromechanical course, and we’re hoping to expand on that and make it somewhat specific to the wind industry; with gear boxes and main shaft work,” Feltman stated. “We’ll use that as a stepping stone for employees to learn the basics and then come into the company on a full-time basis.” 

This new facility will serve a variety of purposes – all in an effort to make the wind industry even bigger, better, and brighter in the future. 

“There is a lot of opportunity in this industry for people that are willing to learn and get engaged in what’s going on,” Feltman said. “There’s a lot of opportunity from a variety of levels.” 

The most important level, of course, is keeping their existing – and new- customers happy. 

“The biggest part of this whole thing is simply to be able to take care of our customers’ needs,” Cavigielli said. “Everything else kind of revolves around that.” 

RENEW Energy Remanufacturing Division

RENEW Energy offers a variety of services to a wide array of clientele. One of the largest divisions of our company is that of Remanufacturing. 

Our Remanufacturing services include gearbox rebuilding, main shaft rebuilding, engineering solutions, logistics management, and more. 

The Remanufacturing division of RENEW Energy wouldn’t be what it is, if it wasn’t for its fearless leader, Gary Cavigielli.

Cavigielli is the VP of Remanufacturing and R&D, and the division has been a labor of love for him for many years. 

He started out his career in automotive repair, working at his own facility for many years. Eventually, he grew tired of that gig and was looking for a new career in a different industry. He found that new career within the wind industry. 

“I’ve been in the wind since 2009,” Cavigielli stated. “I worked a couple years both in the shop and out in the field doing tower repairs. And I came on board with RENEW in 2011, and that’s when we started the remanufacturing facility here in Sioux Falls. So I’ve kind of been here from the start.” 

Once hired, it was Cavigielli’s responsibility to, more or less, help build the Remanufacturing Division from the ground up. 

“When I walked in the shop, there was one gearbox in the entire facility,” he laughed. “So I literally came in on the ground floor. I didn’t have a specific title. I was a shop tech and worked quite a few years hand-in-hand with Curt Eliason one of the founding fathers of Renew, trying to get the ball rolling, if you will. And then once we got to where we grew a little bit in scope and size, I became a Shop Manager and then moved up to the GM of Remanufacturing.”

That happened in 2016 and, in the subsequent 6 years, Cavigielli has grown the division from two people into 30. 

Eventually, RENEW was acquired by TAKKION and that move allowed the Remanufacturing Division to grow even more, both in scale and in inventory. 

“With the TAKKION acquisition, when they bought RENEW, there’s a couple of things that happened,” Cavigielli stated. “It really gave us the capital that we needed for the inventory side of things. You can’t build gearboxes without parts. And being independent, we’re pretty diversified so we don’t just work on one make or model. So it takes quite a bit of inventory and the acquisition has given us the capital to be able to increase our inventory, which allows us to have the parts we need to keep up with the demand of the rebuilds.” 

Cavigielli said that the expansion has allowed RENEW to provide even better service to their customers which, he said, is the whole point of the division. 

“At the end of the day, we’re here to help customers out with what they need,” he said. “We’re here to hopefully save them some money and reduce down times for them. So we’re very customer-driven and, with that extra capital, it’s really helped us mitigate the lack of parts, so we can supply and rebuild components in a timely manner.” 

Throughout the last six years, Cavigielli has built a team of highly-trained professionals that do good work in a timely fashion. 

“My job is to simply do whatever is needed to support the Remanufacturer team; whatever they need to do to allow them to take care of our customers,” he stated. “Over the years, we’ve really developed a very strong core group of people that are very good at their job. So my role is, whether it’s out on the floor, answering a technical question, or whether it’s in the office quoting, or everything in between, I kind of touch it all.”

And that’s what a good manager should be doing. He (or she!) should know everything about everything that his employees are doing. He should be the one that people can go to with questions, and he should be able to answer them. 

That is the kind of manager that RENEW, and TAKKION, expect and it’s exactly the kind of manager that they have gotten with Cavigielli. And his team is all the better because of it. 

“We’ve seen huge growth,” he stated. “Like I said, we’ve got a strong core of people and when you look back at what we’ve accomplished and the amount of growth we’re seeing, and the amount of growth that’s coming – I’m amazed that we’re able to do as much as we can with the people that we have. I really think it points to the strength of our group.” 

That strength came from everybody involved on the team coming together with a common goal, which was providing the absolute best service to their customers. 

“Nothing happens easily,” Cavigielli said. “Nothing happens quickly. Throughout the years, we’ve worked really hard to develop our processes, our procedures, and everything that’s needed to be able to put the tools in front of our people to allow them to be able to do their job efficiently and effectively. And the proof of that is the fact that just last week, we became ISO certified, which was a huge hurdle for us. Over the years, it’s just been living in that state of constant improvement to keep growing, as people and individuals, and with processes and procedures; it’s been constant improvement to get where we are. And the end goal is simply to be able to take care of our customers.”

RENEW Energy SGRE Repowers Project

Renew Energy recently completed work on the largest wind turbine project that the company has taken on to date. 

Last year, Siemens Gamesa reached out to Renew to inquire whether or not they could help support the company with a repower of a project in central Iowa. The project consisted of 193 Siemens 2.3 megawatt towers which were, on average, close to 13 years old. Needless to say, they were in need of an upgrade. That upgrade was to a Siemens Gamesa 2.9 megawatt tower; a huge increase in efficiency. 

The project began in November of 2021, and major component replacements just recently wrapped up.  

At our peak, nearly 100 Renew, TP&L, and Airways techs worked on this project, putting in over 160,000 working hours. 

One of the most remarkable aspects of this job was the fact that, over the course of the 10-month project, there were zero lost time injuries for Renew.

‘Lost time injuries’ are injuries that take a technician off of the project, either for days, weeks, even hours. With over 100 people working on this project, not one of them missed any time due to injuries sustained at the site. 

“A project this size, just statistically, you’re always going to have minor injuries; little hand injuries and things like that,” said Patrick Glenn the General Manager of Construction and Field Services with Renew Energy. “Of course, we strive for zero but some small things do come up. These lost time injuries are really an important metric, upon which we can rate a lot of our success. And we’re really happy to report that after 160,000 working hours, Renew incurred zero lost time injuries, and certainly no fatalities. We just installed our last component and repowered our final turbine. The final rotor went up yesterday.” 

The actual work that the project consisted of was vast and varied. 

“We were doing offloads of the new components, then we had up-tower teams that were taking down the old rotor and the old nacelle,” Glenn said. “A lot of these towers got a whole new top section. And it varied from tower to tower. Some of them got an adapter, some of them got a whole new top section to accommodate the new nacelle. So we would have our up tower teams and then we would have decommissioning teams that went in ahead of those guys and got the tower ready for crane work; determining cables, maybe draining some oils, disconnecting sensitive components and sensors. Then the crane work would happen with that up tower team, followed up by a recommissioning crew that would come in and clean everything and plug stuff back in and get the tower ready to operate. And then it would get inspected by the asset owner, who made sure that we put everything back together according to their expectations and guidelines.” 

There was a lot of work done by the various teams.

“We did have some competition on site,” Glenn stated. “There was another company providing labor support, but we have a good working relationship with them, even though we’re competitors. We did a really good job; I think everyone got along really well and worked well together. There were times where we had to kind of share resources. We helped them some days, they helped us some days. And in a situation where sometimes people don’t work well together, I think that our team down there did a really great job.” 

Renew wasn’t just working with their competitor, however. They were also assisted by their sister companies, Airway Services and Transportation Partners and Logistics. 

“We did have support from Airway Services and TP&L, in terms of helping us staff this project,” Glenn stated. “We had a couple TP&L guys that came out here and helped out for quite a while. This certainly wasn’t strictly, solely a Renew effort. It really was a collaboration between ourselves and our sister companies that made this project a success. It’s a real testament to the TAKKION brand and just the power that this collaboration and the teamwork amongst our brands brings. It was super cool to have our sister companies on site, just knowing that we’re all working towards the same goal.”

Airways services had also provided some TFA’s to the project, who assisted with oversight, as well as some blade techs.

That goal, Glenn said, was completing the largest technician mobilization project Renew has worked on to date. And the final product was the result of a lot of hard work, from a lot of people. 

“Ruben Waldner was our primary point of contact and our primary communication point with Siemens and a lot of the other companies on site,” Glenn shared. “Ruben was supported by some TFA’s that we have working for us;  technical field advisors. We were there not only to perform the craft labor- which is the crane work and the decommissioning and the recommissioning and the offload – but Siemens Gamesa also utilized us in an oversite role, where we had separate techs experienced with Siemens towers with a lot of experience that served as technical field advisors. So, it was a unique situation because, usually, Siemens would call us in as TFA’s to oversee other contractors’ work, but we were utilized not only in the construction and the craft labor side, but also in the quality assurance side, too.” 

Because of that, Glenn said, there was a lot of teamwork happening on the site. 

“Employees that we have who have different specialties were able to kind of look after each other and help each other learn through this process in a way that you don’t usually get if you’re overseeing a competitor or overseeing someone from a different company,” Glenn stated. 

The project was also able to utilize local labor workers, which benefited the community and put money, and jobs, back into it. 

“Generally, projects of this nature do utilize a lot of local labor,” Glenn revealed. “I know that some of the demolition contractors, as well as the crane company, were reaching out to not only local unions, but also to local laborers, to support the different aspects of the project. In addition to some of the jobs created around here, the revenue that was brought in by these hundreds of technicians across all the different subcontractors and contractors that were on site was, I think, a major boom to their local economy during the last year. I couldn’t begin to estimate the exact amount, but it no doubt came as a huge boost to the local hotels, restaurants, gas stations and local vendors.”

“I know the hardware stores made out pretty good,” Glenn laughed. 

Enormous projects like these always benefit the communities of which they are a part, and this project was no different. That’s just one of the reasons why Renew was chosen to work on this project. There were many other reasons, as well; not the least of which is the vast amount of experience that the Renew team has. 

“It would be hard to quantify the years and years of experience that is shared amongst the team that was there,” Glenn stated. “It has to be a hundred people. We’re talking about, probably, hundreds of years of experience that we can bring to the table. And then, just the capacity to support a mobilization like this, with over a hundred people all needing transportation to and from work, and all of the logistics that go into supporting a workforce of this size in these remote parts of the country. I think Siemens knew that we could provide them with the workforce that was experienced and well-managed, well-mannered, professional and, more than anything, safe and capable.” 

Renew, as well as its sister companies, has proven itself to be more than capable, in any situation, with any project. This project in particular, the largest project Renew has completed, is just further proof of that. 

“It was just a really great effort,” Glenn said. “It was a really large effort. There were a lot of people that put in a lot of really great work. Our commitment to safety was one of the shining points on this project. We brought in our own safety professionals to oversee our team, in addition to about a half dozen onsite safety people that Siemens Gamesa had on site. Our commitment to safety and quality was such that we opted to have our own onsite, full-time safety personnel there, just to make sure that we did everything right.” 

They did. 

RENEW Energy Open House Raises $20,000

RENEW Energy recently partnered with the South Dakota Wind Energy Association (SDWEA) for an open
house event for their facility, featuring a golf tournament and a sporting clay tournament to benefit multiple local organizations.

This industry-wide event that promoted workforce development, wind development, and sustainable
community change, benefitted the Mitchell Technical College (MTC), Lake Area Technical College (LATC),
SDWEA, and South Dakota 4-H.

Altogether, the event raised $20,000 for these local organizations.

“RENEW appreciates our partnership with the South Dakota Wind Energy Association,” said Sarah Kreyer, the Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing for RENEW Energy. “And the reason we partner with them is because we wanted to make this event more of an industry event. In the past, it was called the RENEW Customer Appreciation Event, where we wanted to get people together and ‘thank’ them. It started small; we did an open house and a baseball game. We did some golfing too, but now we’ve evolved to this industry event where hundreds of people come from all over the nation.”

She said that the event brings people from all across the country, and even internationally as well.

The golf tournament took place at the Elmwood Golf Course, while the sporting clay tournament took place at the Hunters Pointe Shooting Complex. Following both tournaments, the awards social and dinner took place on the Elmwood property.

Kreyer said that they had approximately 100 golfers, 50 shooters, and multiple attendees of the baseball game and open house. In total, she said that between 250 and 275 people participated in and/or attended the event.

“The purpose of making it more of an industry event is to get people from the wind sector together to
network,” Kreyer said. “It’s a huge networking opportunity for all attendees. It’s exciting to be told, the
RENEW event is ‘the event’ of the year.”

Expanding the event not only brought more people together, it actually saved on costs as well. Whereas
before, RENEW would cover one hundred percent of the costs associated with this event, now various
companies and organizations could sponsor a hole or a station or a number of golfers or a number of

“Through sponsorships from these key customers and vendors, this year we helped raise $20,000 for local
organizations,” Kreyer revealed. “We select the technical colleges from the area to give back to, and we give back to the South Dakota Wind Energy Association as well, so they can continue to promote wind within our state.”

There’s one more beneficiary, however, that RENEW leaves up to a vote. RENEW employees complete a
survey of who they think is the most deserving, and each year that rotates.

“In the past we’ve had Special Olympics, we’ve had ‘Feeding South Dakota,’ we’ve had LifeScape,
she shared. “But this year the organization that was picked was South Dakota 4-H.”

While this was a RENEW event, it also included all of its sister companies as well.

“There was good participation from RENEW, and then we had participation from TP&L, AIRWAY, TAKKION, and some people in the GSS sector as well,” Kreyer stated. “So, all of our sister companies showed great support too and it was really nice to have all of our brands out there. So, from a Takkion company, they’re not only seeing RENEW. RENEW is the host, but all of our sister companies were well recognized, and they helped support the event as well.”

This event was an opportunity to gather, to network, to have some fun, and to raise money for some
incredible organizations. It was a chance for RENEW to really show what they do but, maybe more
importantly, it was a chance for RENEW to really show who they are; as a company, as a brand, and as a

“The neat thing, what makes this so special is that a lot of the times, the main opportunities that we have to get in front of our customers are at the Clean Power events or at other industry events, but we go there,” she offered. “We meet, we talk conceptual or this, that, and the other, but some of these customers or vendors don’t actually visit our location. So, putting on an event that does have a donation opportunity that goes to a good cause will help prompt people to come to beautiful South Dakota, and they can see our facility. And people are blown away by the magnitude of our remanufacturing facility, our training center, and all the services we offer. It’s a great opportunity for them to see up close and personal what we do day-in and day-out!”

RENEW Announces New Facility in Enid, Oklahoma

RENEW Energy is proud to announce the construction of a new remanufacturing facility in Enid, Oklahoma. This new facility will remanufacture wind turbine drive trains, and it will hold the largest capacity in North America in regards to the size of said turbines.

Services on these turbines will be performed entirely on-site, other than the transportation of the actual turbines to and from the facility. 

“We’re going to try and keep everything in-house,” said Travis Harkins, Chief Operating Officer of RENEW Energy. “The only thing that I would say would be off-site is the transportation to and from, and that will be through Global Specialized Services, our sister company. They will provide the transportation for us and then our other sister site, Transportation Partners and Logistics, will provide the logistics and the material handling for us.”

For years, the city of Enid, Oklahoma has been an important partner with RENEW and all of its sister companies, so when they approached city officials with the idea of the new facility, it was an easy deal to make.

“The number one reason why this is going to benefit our customers is because of the strategic location of Enid, being right in the Southern wind corridor of North America,” Harkins revealed. “It’s right in the heart of wind projects and wind farms, so it really puts us in a great location for servicing multiple asset owners, as well as OEMs at this location.” 

Another huge benefit to customers is the actual size of the facility. The RENEW facility in Sioux Falls, South Dakota has a capacity of up to three megawatts. The Enid location will have a capacity of up to seven megawatts. 

Those are the benefits to customers. But the new facility will benefit the city of Enid, as well. For multiple reasons, including the fact that it will provide more than 90 full time jobs to the community. 

“We’re going to have jobs ranging from entry-level labor positions all the way up through engineering and management,” Harkins stated. “Obviously with engineering and management, those are jobs that require some schooling, but then there’s also the technical side. There are going to be several skilled labor positions that are not only experience-based but also trade school-based.”

Harkins said that, at its peak, this new facility will be able to offer more than 90 paid positions to Enid residents. The creation of this new facility benefits all parties involved, and it secures Enid’s involvement in the ever-growing world of wind energy. 

“In regards to this opportunity – obviously we’re creating a lot of new jobs, but it’s a new sector in regards to the energy market right now as well,” Harkins stated. “Instead of being in oil and gas, it’s bringing in renewables. And renewables are going to be around for quite some time; it’s the fastest growing industry in energy right now. So that’s a huge piece. But the other huge piece is that TP&L has been in the community and they’ve had great support. They support local events, the community, and multiple non-profits. Whether that’s giving time or, obviously, donations, or even the fact that last year, GSS and TP&L provided Enid with the world’s tallest Christmas tree – those are all great things and they’ve created a great partnership and a great relationship between the local community and TAKKION as a whole.”

Powell agreed. 

“Enid has always recognized ourselves as being the hub of renewable energy development in the south-central part of the U.S.” she said. “With our proximity to renewable energy projects and our strong transportation network, it makes sense that the manufacturing and maintenance to support the renewable industry is also located in Enid. This announcement by RENEW is a huge first step in realizing this vision and may just be the beginning of a new industry cluster in north-central Oklahoma. We appreciate the investment in facilities and new jobs that RENEW  is bringing to our community and we look forward to supporting their success for years to come.”

RENEW Energy’s R&D Department

It’s been said that if you want something done well, you’ve got to do it yourself and that’s exactly what RENEW Energy’s R&D Department does on a daily basis to provide technicians with safer, more efficient working conditions.

“RENEW’s R&D program has two objectives,” said Curt Eliason, the VP of Remanufacturing/R&D with RENEW. “One is on improving reliability on current wind turbine component designs, and the second is developing very unique and creative ways of performing repair.”

Whether it focuses on in-the-field type situations or problems in the shop, the goal is to find creative ways to fix turbines in a manner that promotes safety, efficiency and, ultimately, lowers the cost of maintenance and the cost of energy produced.

To do this, Eliason said he asks himself and his team a series of questions.

“On the repair side of things, can we eliminate a bunch of costs by reducing the downtime?” he asked. “Can we reduce or eliminate a crane that’s needed to replace these components?”

Eliason said the traditional way to repair a turbine is to remove the entire component from the tower, which requires lowering it down, shipping it to a facility to be repaired, and then putting it back up. This becomes an expensive project when it comes to costs for cranes, labor, and logistics.

“So,” he wondered, “can we repair this up-tower, in place? For component improvement, that’s maybe a little more straightforward, because on the fieldwork side of things, we’re developing tools and processes that do not exist. We’re not only starting from a blank sheet of paper with a new design; the tools don’t exist. You can’t open a catalogue or Google it and find what you need.”

So, the R&D development literally invents the equipment it needs and then develops the processes in which to use it.

“We’ve been awarded several patents for what we’ve been able to develop as far as tooling and procedures,” Eliason stated. “And I think that speaks to our creativity and outside the box thinking. So many times over the course of my 25 year career, I’ve heard people say, when I present a new idea or a colleague presents a new idea, ‘Oh, that can’t be; that’s impossible.’ And it’s like this switch goes off and I say, ‘Okay, game on.’ If we’re given a challenge, I’m just driven to come up with a solution.”

And RENEW’s R&D Department has come up with many solutions.

Such was the case with a Gearbox Model that was becoming problematic for technicians.

“On one specific Gearbox Model that’s a very common model within the industry, they had a problem with a bearing spinning within the housing,” Eliason detailed. “When that happened, the outer part of the bearing needed to stay stationary while the inner part spun. But over time, that outer part would start to spin and it would wear material off the bore where the bearing was mounted. It would cause a lot of destruction and it was a very expensive repair.”

Eliason said that many different people were trying to figure out how to solve this problem; how to fix it and make the problem go away. And none of the ideas were working.

“I said we need to fix this the correct way, so we developed machine tools that we could take up the tower with other supporting equipment that would allow us to disassemble the gear box and perform the repair up tower,” Eliason said. “There’s just a lot of complexity in that process, and it was accepted by the market and the owner of these types of assets. It was a solution; not just a short-term band-aid. It was a long term, permanent fix. And it’s performed well. It’s met all of our expectations but, more importantly, it’s met our customer’s expectations. And it’s done so as a qualified, reliable repair that’s much cheaper than removing the gear box entirely from service and sending it to a workshop. So that’s one method that has really helped us prove our worth; it’s been an accepted repair method that nobody else is doing today.”

Eliason was quick to point out that this is his life’s work; it’s what he loves to do. But, he said, he’s far from the only person who has made RENEW’s R&D Department what it is today.

“I may contribute a little bit, but to make everything come together on the design, on the proof of concept, on the fabrication…to make these tools you have to be a certified welder and really know what you’re doing with some kind of exotic steel blends that are super strong, lightweight, and durable,” Eliason said. “The fabrication process is another good example of the higher-level skill that it takes to make an idea come together, as well as the testing, and training, and application of usage. It really is a team effort and I’m humbled to associate with such a talented group of people.” RENEW Energy’s R&D Department proves that there’s no ‘I’ in team. It also proves that if you want something done well, you should do it yourself…or bring it to R&D.

RENEW Technical Training Program

You’ve heard of on-the-job training, but RENEW is taking that phrase to a whole ‘nother level.

RENEW has implemented a training regimen for its technicians that results in better, safer work and higher morale among employees. This Technical Training Program is a 3-part training system designed to help technicians retain information and continue to develop the skills necessary to maintain our commitment to safety and our exemplary track record.

“The Senior Management Group and the managers at RENEW wanted to create something that would address the day-to-day operations that our technicians were going through,” said Brett Citrowske, Director of Training for RENEW. “We met with our managers and lead techs of projects and asked them what they expected technicians to know within the first six months of being here. And then we built out what we call a Training Matrix, which has very highly specific technical criteria for what is expected from an individual as they go from a Tech 0, or a Trainee Level, to a Tech 3, which is more of a Lead Technician Level.”

The training matrix is made up of different quadrants that focus on a variety of training materials. It utilizes both online training courses and practical, hands-on objectives. Course work includes information on nomenclature and identifying basic tools, understanding drivetrain anatomy and wind turbine anatomy, signaling, rigging, fasteners, torquing, and more. These are all subjects that technicians work on or with on a daily basis.

A big component of the Technical Training Program is the fact that as technicians continue to learn, improve, and progress in the matrix, they are compensated each time they move from one level to another.

“One of the nice things about the program is that when an employee increases their competency through completing the training, there’s a direct compensational increase tied along with that, because they become even safer on the job and they know how to use the tools and the processes that are required,” Citrowske stated.

Offering that compensational increase has resulted in technicians being even more eager to complete the training program because, in layman’s terms, the more they learn, the more they earn.

“Since utilizing this training program, we’ve noticed a dramatic increase in correct terminology, and better understanding with our new hires,” Citrowske stated. “Our managers have said that, through our increased training that we’re doing now, in person and the technical training courses; they have noticed that the individuals that typically excel in the training program are those individuals that are going to be our heavy hitters in the future.”

Citrowske said that the rate in which technicians are able to move up in the program ranges from person to person but that, on average, a tech can progress from a Tech 0 to a Tech 1 in six to eight months, from a Tech 1 to a Tech 2 in approximately 10-12 months, and from a Tech 2 to a Tech 3 in anywhere from one to two years.

“The minimum amount of time somebody could go from the base level to that foreman level would be around two years or a little above that,” he said.

This Technical Training Program is innovative for a myriad of reasons, and it has resulted in higher morale and even safer job sites.

“This training program is not something that we purchased from another company,” Citrowske stated. “We actually made the training materials. We shot the videos, we put together the presentations; we made all of that intracompany. Not only was the curriculum conceptualized with the matrix; we created all of the material internally as well, to make it hyper-focused on our task objectives. And it has been a success.”