Northwest Renewable News

Your Daily Source for Renewable Energy News in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana & Northern California

The Renewable Energy Technology program at Columbia Gorge CC breaks ground on new building January 17, 2009

Filed under: Oregon,Wind — nwrenewablenews @ 3:03 pm

Construction is expected to begin this month for a Renewable Energy Technology lab on The Dalles campus of Columbia Gorge Community College.
Oregon Community Colleges and Workforce Development contributed $395,000 from its Strategic Reserve Fund to construct the Renewable Energy Lab. Prime contractor for the project is CS Construction of Bend. A list of subcontractors will be announced in conjunction with the building’s ground-breaking this month. The lab is scheduled for completion by April 30.
The 2,571-square-foot structure will be located on the southeastern side of the campus, and will house a wind turbine “hub” donated to the college’s Renewable Energy Technology program by Vestas.
The hub will be mounted at ground level, although this equipment is usually located far above-ground as the point where a wind turbine’s blades intersect with the “nacelle,” which holds the gearbox, generator and other equipment needed to convert wind energy into electrical power. The college is also working with its renewable energy industry partners to provide a training nacelle.
“It is critically important for community college students to have state-of-the-art equipment to learn and train on, so they can gain valuable 21st Century skills and knowledge. CCWD and the State Board of Education are pleased to play a role in equipping Columbia Gorge Community College and its students for Renewable Energy Technician jobs,” said Dr. Cam Preus, commissioner of Oregon Community Colleges & Workforce Development.
Columbia Gorge Community College is a national leader in the fast-growing field of wind technology training, where students gain the unique skill-set – encompassing electrical, electronics, mechanical and hydraulics knowledge – needed by the wind energy industry.
More than 2,000 megawatts of wind energy has been installed in the Pacific Northwest over the past four years – half of this within the past year. More than 6,000 megawatts is projected – enough wind energy to power an estimated half-million homes. Nation-wide, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the wind energy industry is on track to install 16,000 megawatts each year – a rate consistent with the national goal of 20 percent wind energy by the year 2030.
There are thousands of turbines in the Pacific Northwest, and this fleet requires a highly-skilled workforce. To help train these technicians, Columbia Gorge Community College partnered with the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa Lakes Community College and the wind energy industry to host a “Summer Institute” in The Dalles in June 2008.
This national event drew 18 community colleges and universities from 13 states and one Canadian province, as well as industry and agency representatives, to identify common skill sets needed by wind technicians. This event received significant monetary and staff support by eight wind energy companies.
The Renewable Energy Technology program at Columbia Gorge Community College began in 2007, and currently is able to train 32 students annually, a number which will double this spring through a $1.67 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration. While the program’s focus is on wind energy, its curriculum (designed with industry guidance) prepares students for a range of renewable energy fields, including solar and hydropower. The college developed the program with its workforce training partner, Mid-Columbia Council of Governments.
An application for the project was approved by The Dalles City Planning Commission in October with a list of 11 conditions. There was no opposition testimony in the hearing, which lasted only 25 minutes.


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