Presque Isle, Maine – Northern Maine Community College will use $2.2 million in federal funding to expand its wind technician program in Aroostook County and southern Maine.
The academy will launch a wind energy industry safety training program on Presque Isle and partner with the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine to train offshore technicians.
As offshore projects in Searsport, the Gulf of Maine and South Portland continue to grow, demand for workers in the wind industry is also growing. Two new developments in Aroostook County will open up more wind industry jobs, and the academy is at the forefront of plans to be the first on the East Coast to offer certified safety trainers.
“This program will help increase Maine’s wind power workforce, which is critical to combating climate change and developing a clean energy economy for Maine and beyond,” said Tim Crowley, president of Northern Maine Community College .
Maine’s congressional delegation earmarked the money in a federal appropriations bill announced in December.
Under the Maine Community College System, the college will become the first internationally accredited wind safety training facility in the northeastern United States.
Maine has been focused on developing renewable energy for years, but both onshore and offshore wind power have taken big steps forward, Crowley said.
The state recently received a surprise investment from Massachusetts for the King Pines Wind Project on Mount Nine in Aroostook County near Mars Hill. The Public Utilities Commission has approved the project and another large project in Aroostook County.
Crowley said demand for wind energy technicians could grow as rapidly as it did 15 years ago when the Mars Hill wind facility was completed. One technician will be needed for every three to four wind turbines.
In addition to training students to work in the industry, the academy will also create a directory of certified wind power technicians that companies can access. Crowley said it was difficult to find someone with the necessary credentials.
Colleges must submit final documents to receive funding within the next five to six months.
The funds will be used for safety training at Presque Isle and offshore wind technician training in partnership with the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine.
“The challenge is to [Maine Maritime Academy] There will be the safety training required for people transferring workers from shore to offshore wind turbines,” Crowley said.
That’s where the NMCC program comes in.
The college is using funds from last year’s comprehensive spending plan to buy the equipment needed for classroom teaching. The academy received $988,000 for the first phase of the expansion of its security program, which uses Wind Globalization Standards to train participants.
The second phase includes a partnership between the college and the Maine Maritime Academy. Lectures will be offered online, but Presque Isle staff will provide more hands-on training at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor and Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.
Wayne Kilcollins, who has worked in wind power for the past 10 years, will lead the course. Students will complete the program in one year, with certification taking three to four weeks, university officials said.
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