The United States Department of Energy has announced award selections totalling almost $100 million for 54 smart grid workforce training programmes that will help prepare the next generation of workers in the utility and electrical manufacturing industries.
These projects, which are expected to train approximately 30,000 personnel, will leverage more than $95 million in funding from community colleges, universities, utilities and manufacturers to develop and implement training programmes, for a total project value of more than $194 million.
The awards will support two types of workforce training initiatives. In the “Developing and enhancing workforce training programmes for the electric power sector” topic, 33 projects will receive $41.6 million for the development of new training programmes, strategies and curricula related to the electric power sector and the smart grid. These new programmes include projects at universities, community colleges and technical schools that will help serve as models for training or retraining workers across the country. The awards also include support for the Strategic Training and Education in Power Systems (STEPS) initiative, which will develop cross-disciplinary electric power system programmes at university and college level.
In the “Smart grid workforce training” topic, 21 projects will receive $57.7 million to conduct workforce training programmes for new hires, including displaced workers and military veterans, and retraining programmes for electric utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to further enhance their knowledge of smart grid technologies and their implementation. These projects will help ensure utilities and manufacturers have the necessary trained workforce to support the ongoing smart grid deployment projects, including Smart Grid Investment Grants and demonstration projects funded under the Recovery Act.
The awards range in size from just over $87,000 up to $5 million.