California wind farms providing energy and jobs

Like the first blades of grass in scorched earth, a new crop of wind turbines in Solano County will be generating not only electricity but steady income for refugees of the ravaged housing and automotive industries.

The beneficiaries include Anthony Perales, a 28-year-old father of three from Stockton, who was squeezed out of jobs framing houses and detailing new cars. He's now a "windsmith" trained to climb the 262-foot-high towers and maintain the turbines.

Then there's Julie Walton, 48, an escrow officer in Oakley who arrived at work one day to find her title insurance company's office abandoned, with no notice or final paychecks to employees. She now handles land deals for Enxco, the developer of the new wind farm near Suisun City.

Joining Walton is Jeremy Imbesi, who said he was making a six-figure income as a mortgage lender for a major bank in Modesto until the cascade of foreclosures drowned his business. He now leases large swaths of remote desert and ranch-land from eager property owners for future wind farms.

The three Enxco employees are among the growing ranks of "green collar" workers that President Barack Obama references in his plans to lift the nation's economy through investment in clean energy.

Nearly one-tenth of his $787 billion stimulus plan that Congress just approved is devoted to expanding renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and investments in energy efficiency – including high-speed rail and weatherizing homes.

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