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Texas Renewable Energy Education Center Opens in Texas – Prepares Students for 21st Century Jobs

Offshore wind farms off texas coast will lead to many 21st century jobsThere’s a lot of wind coming out of Texas, and it isn’t just Rick Perry’s newly launched presidential campaign. Texas leads the country in wind technology, with some of the best resources for wind energy production in the world.

Starting this August 29, students at Texas State Technical College will be able to prepare themselves for the new energy economy with the opening the school’s Renewable Energy Education Center.  The Center will open on the site of the former Navel Station Ingleside situated on Corpus Christi bay in southern Texas. With 2000 jobs lost, the Navel Station closure hit hard, but the Renewable Energy Education Center represents a “small but reassuring step” for recovery, both immediate and long-term, as southern Texas develops its wind energy resources.

The region currently accounts for 13 percent of the state’s wind energy capacity, but an increasing number of projects are coming online, with at least three 200-turbine offshore wind farms set for installation. The offshore wind farms will mean more than the average number of jobs, says Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse director Greg Wortham. Usually one technician is required to maintain 10 turbines, but the unique conditions of the offshore turbines, such as the corrosive, salty air, requires one technician per turbine, Wortham explains. “What happens is south Texas is moving toward a critical mass where you will have a lot more than the average number of jobs.”

Once classes begin later this month, the Renewable Energy Education Center will offer Level I and Level II wind technology certification as well as a two-year associates degree. Students will learn about wind and solar energy with coursework including hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics, and motor controls, all skills that students can apply “old fuel” industries like oil and gas, says school president Cesar Maldonado. Graduates for the program can expect to enter the workforce making $60,000 or more per year.

The Center was started with a grant of $1.9 million from the Texas governor’s office and a $500,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission.

 

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