Offshore wind joint-venture partners Ørsted and Eversource have formed a collaborative partnership with higher education, labor and workforce development organizations to prepare Rhode Island’s offshore wind workforce.
“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,” says Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee. “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.”
The partnership, together with the Community College of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Rhode Island Commerce, the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, and Building Futures, will be supported by $1 million from Revolution Wind, Ørsted and Eversource’s offshore wind project for Rhode Island and Connecticut. The funding is a portion of a previously announced $4.5 million commitment to support education, workforce training and supply chain development in the state.
“We need to make sure Rhode Island is not just the birthplace of American offshore wind, but its home going forward. Investments like this are how we will make that happen,” mentions Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “This program will ensure that we have one of the best-trained wind energy workforces in the nation. We can protect our environment while creating good-paying union jobs and leading a growing international industry.”
The training partnership will establish the state’s first Global Wind Organization (GWO) training certificate program at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Flanagan campus in Lincoln. GWO training – the international standard for offshore wind safety training – provides essential safety training for workers engaged in offshore wind farm construction and operations. Workers enrolled in the program will receive training in first aid, manual handling, fire awareness, working at heights and sea survival.
“Rhode Island workers helped launch America’s offshore wind industry,” states David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America. “Now, with this major initiative, we’re partnering with the Rhode Island building trades and state leaders in higher ed and workforce development to ensure Rhode Islanders have the training and skills they need to help build the state’s clean energy future.”
“We are working to launch a new domestic industry in Rhode Island, and across the region, that will provide well-paying jobs, deliver clean, renewable energy, and help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change,” comments Joe Nolan, CEO and president of Eversource Energy. “This $1 million investment is building a safe and inclusive workforce in Rhode Island that will play a critical role in advancing the state’s blue economy and accelerate the transformation to a clean energy future we can all be proud of.”
CCRI will engage Rhode Island-based Boston Energy, which will serve as a consultant in the facility retrofitting, equipment purchasing, instructor training and GWO accreditation. Work will begin on the GWO Basic Safety Training program curriculum and facility build-out this fall. Using their existing facilities, this training center will include, among other things, the pool to simulate offshore conditions for sea survival training, and 30-foot-tall structures where students will learn safe climbing practices and rope techniques.
“CCRI is the workforce training engine that will power the growing offshore energy sector in Rhode Island,” adds Meghan Hughes, president of CCRI. “We are grateful to our industry, government and labor partners for this investment, which will allow CCRI to build a world-class GWO training program that will provide Rhode Islanders with the skills needed to enter high-quality careers in the offshore wind sector.”
“Rhode Island is well-established as a first mover and national leader in the offshore wind industry, and our ability to bring leaders across various sectors together under one umbrella is a crucial part of that success,” states Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner. “Public-private partnerships like this will help us continue to build on our momentum in the Blue Economy, create good jobs, and truly lead the new way toward a clean energy future.”
“The Ocean State has been a national leader in offshore wind, and we want to ensure that Rhode Islanders from all backgrounds can get the skills and training they need for jobs in this burgeoning industry,” says Department of Labor and Training Director Matthew Weldon. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Building Futures to help ensure access to these opportunities, particularly for low-income and BIPOC individuals. Thank you to Ørsted and Eversource for this important investment in Rhode Island’s workforce.”
“Union workers helped launch the nation’s offshore wind industry with our work on the Block Island Wind Farm, and we’re ready to play a central role in building the clean energy projects of the future. We’re proud to be playing a part in this partnership and helping to train and certify future offshore wind trades men and women that will power the future of our country,” mentions Michael Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Building & Construction Trades Council. “Union labor means good-paying jobs, and now, a future in green energy so we can play our part in supporting the country’s energy transition.”
“To generate clean energy offshore, GWO certification for Rhode Island’s offshore workers is essential,” continues Andrew Cortés, founder and executive director of Building Futures. “Revolution Wind is an investment in our future; these training dollars will help ensure that diverse community residents experiencing poverty are not left out of this future. Instead, they will have a clear path to family sustaining careers through Registered Apprenticeships in the construction trades.”
This program will be available to all workers seeking a GWO training certificate, which provides them with the specialized safety credentials required for working offshore. The program is expected to open for enrollment in early 2023. The course takes 44 hours to complete, and certification is valid for two years. GWO training is a critical component in ensuring safe working conditions and practices in the industry. Upon completion of the course, graduates will obtain the practical skills needed to perform their job safely and be prepared for the rigors of offshore work.
In addition to the GWO training program, Revolution Wind is providing funding to the Department of Labor and Training for offshore wind career training for Rhode Islanders involved in the construction of offshore wind projects. The Department of Labor and Training, together with Building Futures, will ensure that local workers have access to robust and equitable offshore wind career training and pathways to family-sustaining jobs.
Building Futures has extensive experience executing training programs, having worked with the DLT since 2007 to meet employer and industry need for skilled workers through the Registered Apprenticeship system while creating family-sustaining career opportunities for low-income, diverse community members.
The 704 MW Revolution Wind project will create thousands of estimated direct, indirect and induced jobs for Rhode Island during construction and operations.
Once permits are in-hand, offshore construction work on Revolution Wind would begin in 2023, with the project in operations in 2025. Onshore and offshore survey work is already underway.
In total, Ørsted and Eversource are investing a combined $40 million at ProvPort and Quonset Point in North Kingstown to support the development of Revolution Wind, as well as the South Fork Wind project serving New York. Work to build a new regional offshore wind construction facility at ProvPort is complete.
Ørsted and Eversource’s joint portfolio of Northeast offshore wind farms will be built by American union labor. The developers and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) reached a project labor agreement (PLA) to construct the company’s U.S. offshore wind farms with an American union workforce. The National Offshore Wind Agreement sets the bar for working conditions and equity, injects hundreds of millions of dollars in middle-class wages into the American economy, creates apprenticeship and career opportunities for communities most impacted by environmental injustice, and ensures projects will be built with the safest and best-trained workers in America.