Public Service Co. of Oklahoma (PSO), Invenergy and GE Renewable Energy – project partners of the proposed Wind Catcher Energy Connection – have partnered with High Plains Technology Center (HPTC) and Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) to equip students with jobs in the wind sector.
The partnership, pending regulatory approval of the 2 GW Wind Catcher project, is set to provide $200,000 in total scholarships, as well as training equipment and programming for students.
HPTC will expand and modernize its existing wind technician training program in Woodward, Okla., including doubling student enrollment. OPSU and HPTC also intend to work together so that OPSU students can earn credit hours toward their associate degree by completing the wind technician certification program at HPTC.
PSO and Invenergy are jointly contributing the $200,000 in scholarship funding, which will cover half of all tuition costs for individual students to complete the HPTC wind certification program. GE Renewable Energy will donate and install equipment at HPTC’s training facility, including a GE turbine hub and machine head, to prepare future wind energy technicians through hands-on lab experience. Additionally, GE’s Renewable Energy Learning Center (RELC) will partner with HPTC to provide additional training sessions for local instructors to deepen their knowledge base.
Wind Catcher Energy Connection is a $4.5 billion infrastructure investment that will bring Oklahoma wind power to more than 1.1 million energy customers in the South Central U.S. through 800 GE wind turbines. Construction began in 2016, and operations are expected to begin by the end of 2020.
“The Wind Catcher project isn’t just about harnessing Oklahoma’s rich energy resources – it’s about creating family-sustaining job opportunities for Oklahomans,” says Stuart Solomon, president of PSO. “This partnership with High Plains Technology Center and Oklahoma Panhandle State University will create a jobs-ready workforce to continue Oklahoma’s energy leadership long into the future.”
“This announcement demonstrates one of the many opportunities Wind Catcher and the wind industry in general create for our region,” says Oklahoma State Rep. Casey Murdock. “The training and scholarship program will strengthen our workforce and prepare students for high-quality jobs close to home.”