When I asked him about his favorite part of the job, Ken said, “That’s easy to answer. My favorite part of this job is the kids.
“I love it when the school kids come here on a field trip to see what we do, and how wind energy is made.”
Hatchet Ridge Wind is located in Burney, part of the Intermountain Region in Northern California. The facility manager at Hatchet Ridge is Ken Hammon, and he is a man that truly enjoys his life.
Ken has been working for Pattern Energy for a little over a decade, and the unpredictable way he came to work in the renewable energy industry started in the United States Navy.
From Nukes to Wind
Ken hails from Sacramento, California, and after he got out of high school he joined the Navy and worked as a Nuclear Machinist Mate in the Navy’s Submarine Force, where he maintained the equipment that made a nuclear powered submarine possible.
The United States Navy Submarine Force is the most advanced and capable in the world and has a rich history; the first submarines used by the United States were in the Revolutionary War against the British, the Turtle I, never sank a ship but ever since, the U.S. Navy has been using submarines to keep our nation safe.
Ken enjoyed his time in the Submarine Force, with his longest deployment at sea being five-and-a-half months.
Wind comes to the Intermountain Region
After serving in the Navy, Ken moved to the Intermountain Region where he was working in biomass for Burney Forest Power.
“When I got out of the Navy,” Ken told me, “all the nuke plants closed up, so I ended up working in biomass for Burney Forest Power. That’s where I saw Hatchet Ridge construction get underway.”
Fast forward, and Ken took his experience in energy and was hired as the Facility Manager (FM) for Hatchet Ridge Wind in March, 2011, and has been there since.
When I asked him about his favorite part of the job, Ken said, “That’s easy to answer. My favorite part of this job is the kids!”
“I love it when the school kids come here on a field trip to see what we do, and how wind energy is made,” Ken said. “They are always interested and have great questions. It makes me happy being able to show off the work we do and how important it is to our communities. Watching their excitement and amazement is fun to see.”
While the kids are always fun, Ken’s love of showing off the great work being done at Hatchet Ridge goes further: “We get a lot of people out here for different reasons, and I am always happy to give them a tour, too. Pattern Energy employees from around the country that might not get into the field often, local officials, and more.”
He paused for a moment, and told me with pride, “Our community relations are good here. Everyone is positive, friendly, and we’re an important part of our community.”
Ken is married and has two children, now adults.
Ken’s oldest, Rebecca, is married and has a family of her own in Oregon, and Jessica, his youngest, participates in competitive horse jumping.
Annette, Ken’s wife, is also passionate about horses and does competitive riding.
As if that wasn’t enough, Ken and Annette have a 23-acre ranch where Ken raises bison and grows tropical produce in a greenhouse.
“We grow citrus, avocados, dragonfruit, bananas, and vanilla orchids, whose plant provides real vanilla beans.”
I asked Ken about the bison business, and he currently has 13 head but told me, “I consider the ranch more of a hobby. I’ve given away a lot of produce, and I sell the bison to family and friends. The meat,” he added, “is fantastic, and I have the pleasure of knowing exactly where it came from.”
Ken also let me in on his family situation: “My daughters are grown, but we have five German Shepherds here, and they think they run the ranch. They’re smart, can open doors and we just try to keep up with them,” he laughed.
For fun, Ken said he and Annette like to trail ride, work their horses, and continue to develop their property. “We’re pretty self-contained out here,” Ken said, “and we love our life.”