Tag Archive | machine tool

Wind-turbine foes dealt setback in NH

Lori Lerner and her husband purchased a second home on Newfound Lake more than a decade ago and loved the area so much that they moved in for good. Now, she worries the construction of wind generator on the ridges above the lake might stop others from following in their footsteps.

“Who wants to invest their hard-earned money in an area that’s being overtaken by these monstrosities?” she said Thursday.

Already, 24 turbines in the area reach 400 to 500 feet above the high ground, and three other projects that Lerner cited would bring the total surrounding the lake to 120. Their presence has put the economy of the Newfound Lake region in the central part of the state in a downward spiral, she said.

Lerner is part of a vocal contingent of New Hampshire residents urging the Legislature to temporarily put a stop to new wind projects until the procedure to approve their locations, known as the siting process, can be changed. It’s been criticized as outdated.

Opponents of the projects are concerned they’ll deal a major blow to the state’s tourism industry and real estate economy, and they want to protect local interests.

Their efforts were set back Thursday when the Senate rejected such a moratorium, instead passing a bill calling for two studies of the siting process. One would be conducted by an independent consultant and the other by lawmakers. Lawmakers would get their recommendations by 2014.

The moratorium was too broad, opponents argued. It would have affected all energy projects not required for system reliability and would in turn set back New Hampshire’s renewable energy goals, and the siting process can be improved without halting it altogether, they said.

Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton, favored the moratorium in part because it would have prevented the siting committee from considering the Northern Pass transmission line project for another year. Some of his constituents worry that if above ground transmission lines are built, they will hurt the region’s economy.

One Siouxland community college has such a great reputation in wind energy, people around the world are looking to emulate it.

Thirty-five year old Ethan Hunter is a wind energy student at Iowa Lakes Community College. He’s also an immigrant from the Republic of Turkey, which he says is getting into wind power, big time.

“The Turkish market is growing. But there is not enough man power. Everything is coming from Europe,” said Hunter.

Ethan says that’s an issue. He says it costs millions to import a workforce, when they could be trained locally. So, he wants to start a school to do just that. Called Wind Academy Turkey, it would be modeled after Iowa Lakes for good reason.

To prove that, Ethan has brought over government representatives from the republic. They’re meeting with school officials and getting a first hand look at what makes this school a success. Dignitaries are checking out everything from classrooms to structures like ILCC’s 1.5 megawatt wind turbine.

What they learn they’ll incorporate into their school, abroad. Iowa Lakes instructors like the idea. They say the wind industry could always use the help.

“We cannot supply the demand of workforce almost up 2023, there’s a deficit. I think the more help we have to educate people and get them in the workforce, the better,” said Wind Energy Instructor Doug Enger.

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Claremont Thins Trees On City Land

“We identified the best trees and kept those and thinned out the trees that are ready to harvest or wouldn’t survive 15 or 20 years when we cut again,” he said. “There are a lot of good trees left.”

McKenney estimates many of the trees are about 60 years old and were planted in the early 1940s after the last harvest occurred on the property.

“We are trying to balance out recreational use and responsible management of the city’s forest land,” McKenney narrates in the video. The trees that are left have been marked with a blue stripe.

“There is a nice white pine tree that we want to save for future harvest,” McKenney notes on the video.

During a tour of the property October 2011, Chris Cox, also with New England Forestry Consultants, said it is not only what you take that matters with a forestry plan.

“You look at what you leave behind, trees that will continue to grow and be there for a future harvest,” Cox said at the time. “It makes for a healthier forest.”

Thinning out stands of trees allows for more light and better growth, Cox added. Several trees are marked with a “W,” meaning they have an obvious benefit to wildlife.

“We hang on to those,” McKenney says in the video. He describes one tree with lower cavities that could be used by a fisher cat or porcupine for a den and upper cavities for bird nesting.

For those not familiar with modern logging operations, the 27-minute video, which had been viewed 37 times as of last night, includes several moments of footage of the machine that takes down the trees and cuts them up.

“It is just a very expensive axe and saw,” McKenney tells viewers describing the “processor.” Though the cab looks similar to other heavy machinery, the tree-cutting attachment is anything but ordinary.

In one clip , the operator clamps on to a tall hemlock , cuts it at the bottom, swings the tree around to a clearing area and rotates it horizontal. Large rollers with spikes strip off branches then the trunk is cut into eight-foot logs that will be used for pulp.

“With that machine, the two-man crew can cut more in a week than a whole crew could do before in a winter,” McKenney said this weekend.

The net revenue the city receives for the trees depends on a few factors, including the quality of species and the operational costs. White pine fetches the most per board foot followed by red pine and hemlock, McKenney said, adding that he expects they will harvest several hundred thousand board feet when finished in another week or week and a half.

“It is what landowners do to responsibly manage land,” McKenney said. “They balance out the finances with biology.”

During the October 2011 tour, McKenney said the tall white pines along the road near the front of the park are not marked for removal, except those that are damaged or present a hazard.

Logging inside the park may or may not take place this winter, but one area slated for thinning blocks the view of Mt. Ascutney from the picnic area at the top of the access road. McKenney said his mother-in-law recalled being able to see the mountain when she visited the park years ago.

Baby boomer babies not fulfilling American dream

Not everyone is afforded the opportunity to attend classes full-time for two years. ATCC has recognized this hurdle and made the four-year machinist apprenticeship program adaptable to people who have to maintain a fulltime job and want to advance their career.

Hetland joined ATCC in May to design the apprenticeship program. He started out as a tool and die apprentice in the 1960s and saw a need today in the manufacturing mecca of Alexandria to attract more students to the trade.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Hetland said. He added that, with industry support, the college may add apprenticeships for other high demand technical careers in manufacturing and construction.

“The program is set up for adults already in the workplace who are looking to get into a skilled profession,” Hetland said. “Students can maintain a full-time job while getting training in the evenings.”

National statistics show that in 2010, manufacturing workers in the U.S. averaged $77,186 annually, including pay and benefits, while workers in other industries took home $56,436, according to Hetland. By the end of the decade, the National Association of Manufacturers reported there will be 620,000 manufacturing job vacancies.

“More baby boomers are retiring than workers are coming out of school,” Hetland said. “The students in our two-year program are being heavily recruited. There simply are more jobs than graduates.”

Hetland said a shortage of workers has come about because many young people believed the misnomer that manufacturing was a dingy, dangerous career path and that many kids didn’t want to follow in their parents’ footsteps. He said much has changed over the years.

“Manufacturing jobs used to be very manual, now it’s gotten more automated,” Hetland said.

Machinists need to be more skilled and educated as machines become more complex and intricate. Many of the manual labor jobs have moved offshore to India and China, Hetland said. A machinist is not the same as a machine operator who will make around $10 an hour.

Employer sponsorship is a requirement for apprenticeships, which are paid, and makes the program a community effort. The apprentice must apply for apprenticeship, have the employer agree to formal standards of apprenticeship and the student’s application must be accepted by both ATCC and the Minnesota Department of Labor.

“Our local area is way ahead in supporting manufacturing,” Hetland said.

The program at ATCC is approved by the Minnesota Department of Labor and certified by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). Graduates will be certified Journeyworker Machinists.

Students will be introduced to tools, materials, measuring methods, programming, equipment and trade terms as well as trained in using computer numerical control (CNC), turning centers and precision grinders. Through on the job training, apprentices will become knowledgeable of metal varieties and cutting tools and in reading blueprints.

If a student chooses to pursue the machinist apprenticeship program she or he will need to invest four years. Two year associate in applied science and diploma options are also available for students who are entering the machine tool trade.

“There are no shortcuts in this; it just doesn’t suffice,” Hetland said. “This is a part of America, to generate a skill set and make a living wage.”