Wind Industry Will Offer ?Seal of Approval? for Wind Technician Training Programs

The American Wind Energy Association Board of Directors, following an 18-month process of consultation with wind industry and educational leaders, recently approved a Wind Turbine Service Technician set of basic skills that includes all of the competencies a technician is expected to possess on the first day of the job.

In 2010, AWEA will make plans to review the wind technician training programs of educational institutions that seek the AWEA Seal of Approval, and establish an expert Board of Review that will grant the approval.

“Adopting this skill set is a stepping stone to the wind power industry’s future. As more educational institutions initiate wind technician training programs, the size of the trained workforce will increase, and training costs for our members will be reduced,” said Stephen Miner, AWEA’s senior vice president for Conference, Membership and Business Development.

“Before this skill set began there were no national efforts that defined what it meant to be a wind technician. This process began because the industry expressed a need to identify the skills required in becoming a wind technician,” said Tracy Rascoe, Director, Wind Energy Technology at Northwest Renewable Energy Institute.

Estimates are that one wind technician is needed to service every 10 megawatts (MW) of wind generating capacity installed. That means that in 2009 alone, as many as 700 new wind technicians were needed to keep pace with installations of new wind capacity. Many of these new technician jobs were, and will continue to be, created to service projects completed as a result of American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding.
AWEA has identified 30 Wind Technician education programs at U.S. educational institutions and an additional 10 programs are in the process of being developed.

Columbia Gorge Community College in Oregon pioneered a wind technician training program in the fall of 2007 and hosted a 2008 meeting to initiate the AWEA skill set development process. By the fall of 2010 they expect to have more than 150 students enrolled every year. “We are pleased that the industry will benefit from a highly-skilled, well educated workforce,” said Dr. Susan J. Wolff, Chief Academic Officer of Columbia Gorge. AWEA will issue additional information on the Seal of Approval process early in 2010.

AWEA is the national trade association of America’s wind industry, with more than 2,500 member companies, including global leaders in wind power and energy development, wind turbine manufacturing, component and service suppliers, and the world’s largest wind power trade show. AWEA is the voice of wind energy in the U.S., promoting renewable energy to power a cleaner, stronger America.