The Pinnacle wind-power plant extends for roughly four miles in the northeastern corner of West Virginia. Twenty-three turbines dot the spine of the Appalachians, irregularly spaced along the mountain ridges. The towers, supplied by Siemens Gamesa, rise three hundred feet, looking like giant pinwheels amid a rolling landscape of small towns and windy roads. The rotating blades can be seen from Maryland and Pennsylvania. Down below is Mineral County and its county seat, Keyser, a former manufacturing and railroad hub that overlooks a branch of the Potomac.
Five full-time employees maintain the turbines. Each tower has an internal ladder. After climbing to the top, the workers can investigate errant temperature readings—the gearbox can overheat—or worrisome signals from the tower’s sensors. Once a year, the team adjusts the calibrations of the blades, checks the tension on bolts, and tests the structural integrity of the equipment.