CCRI to launch offshore wind training program under state, developer partnership

OFFSHORE WIND DEVELOPERS Orsted A/S and Eversource Energy are partnering with the state to launch an internationally accredited offshore wind training program at the Community College of Rhode Island. Pictured is the Block Island Wind Farm. /COURTESY ORSTED US OFFSHORE WIND

LINCOLN – If Rhode Island wants to leverage its role in the offshore wind industry to bring more jobs to the state, it needs to prepare those future workers.

How the state will train that emerging workforce became clearer on Wednesday as private and government partners gathered to announce plans to launch an internationally-recognized certificate program at the Community College of Rhode Island. The Global Wind Organization training certificate program, expected to open for enrollment in early 2023, marks the latest in a series of joint agreements between the state and the private offshore wind developers, Orsted A/S and Eversource Energy.

Orsted and Eversource, which are heading up a slew of major area offshore wind projects, will give $1 million from an already announced $4.5 million funding pot to support the new wind training program, according to a statement from Gov. Daniel J. McKee’s office. The $4.5 million pledge, first announced in 2019, funds a variety of workforce development programs through state educational institutions and the R.I. Department of Labor and  Training. The developers have separately committed $40 million to upgrades ports in Providence and Quonset.

The first-in-the-state, 44-hour CCRI program will train participants in first aid, fire awareness, working at heights and sea survival, among other skills, integrating existing facilities such as the pool with new items like 30-foot-tall structures to teach safe climbing practices and rope techniques, the release stated. 

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Boston Energy will serve as a consultant in the infrastructure improvements, instructor training, and accreditation necessary to prepare the new certificate program, with work anticipated to begin this fall. 

Additionally, Orsted and Eversource through their Revolution Wind project slated for federal waters off Rhode Island’s coast said they will give more money to the DLT to train construction workers on offshore wind projects. 

“Rhode Island has momentum, and that is evident by this major workforce development initiative – it is a true collaboration between higher education, labor, and the workforce,” McKee said in a statement. “Our state has a historic, once-in-a-generation opportunity before us to capitalize on its position as the leader in wind and renewable energy, creating good-paying jobs and protecting Rhode Island’s future, while being well-positioned to lead the way in fighting the climate crisis.”

While McKee and other state officials have long touted the economic benefits that will come from the state’s involvement in offshore wind projects, the number of new jobs for Rhode Island remains unclear.

How many participants the state is hoping to graduate from its new CCRI training program was also not specified, nor is it clear that they are guaranteed jobs on Orsted and Eversource’s projects. The developers are also working on two other area wind projects, South Fork and Sunrise Wind, which will use some amount of workers and port infrastructure in Rhode Island.

Partners on the new CCRI training program also include R.I. Commerce Corp., the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council and Building Futures.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.

 

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