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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Doyle announces grants to fund solar training

From an article by Nick Paulson in the Wausau Daily Herald:

CUSTER -- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will use $270,000 in grant money to train its members in advanced photovoltaic technologies.

Gov. Jim Doyle said Tuesday at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association in Custer that the money is part of $2.6 million being distributed statewide for training in alternative energies.

Last week, MREA received a $3.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to create a regional solar training network.

Combined, the programs will fund training for hundreds of instructors, who can then take what they learn back to classrooms and workshops and train a new work force for a growing industry.

"We're already seeing major new investment in solar operations," Doyle said. "We want to make sure we have workers, skilled workers, who are trained in the technical skills needed for the installation of solar systems."

Much of the renewable energy technology, while not exactly new, has not been widely available. Although many of the skills are similar to that of all electricians, additional training is needed.

"We have a lot of great skilled people, but for many of them, they came up as electrical workers or carpenters at a time when there was no renewable energy industry," Doyle said. "Those are all skills that need to be taught."

The IBEW grant will train 24 electricians, who will then train up to 180 students during the next three years.

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