Rhode Island, already first in the U.S. to deliver a commercial scale offshore wind energy project, received a boost Aug. 3 in building the clean power sector's needed workforce as it scales up to meet a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2033.
Gov. Dan McKee (D) announced an alliance of higher education, labor and workforce development organizations and offshore wind project joint-venture partners Ørsted and Eversource that includes $1 million to create a new worker training certification program, part of a $4.5-million workforce and supply chain development commitment.
The firms now are developing the 704-MW Revolution Wind project 15 miles off the state coast that will supply 400 MW of electricity to Rhode Island and 304 MW to Connecticut, when expected completion occurs in 2025. Construction is set to begin in 2023.
“Rhode Island workers helped launch America’s offshore wind industry. Now… 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 … to help build the state’s clean energy future,” said David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America.
The training alliance will establish the state’s first-ever Global Wind Organization (GWO) training certificate program at the Community College of Rhode Island in Lincoln, said McKee. Workers will receive essential safety training specific to offshore wind system construction and operations, including manual handling, working at heights, fire awareness, and sea survival.
Boston Energy Wind Power Services plans to serve as consultant for the community college in purchasing equipment, training instructors and retrofitting the facility. Work on the GWO basic safety training program curriculum and the facility build-out will begin this fall. The training center will include a pool for sea survival training and 30-ft structures for safe climbing practice and rope techniques.
The training effort follows the state's May update of its energy standard to achieve 30% renewable power deployment by 2030 and 100% by 2033, with offshore wind set to power half of that total.
In June, McKee signed a bill that requires Rhode Island’s primary utility company, Rhode Island Energy, to open the market-competitive procurement process for between 600 MW and 1 GW of power no later than Oct. 15.