Renewable energy training: Chicago preps electricians for smart grid

Renewable Energy Training Field Chicago
At the Renewable Energy Training Field in Chicago, electricians will have receive training on maintaining solar panels as well as wind energy applications. Pic credit: NCSC

In the US, two electrical associations in Chicago have created a renewable energy training centre to meet the state-wide shortage of renewable certified electricians.

The National Electrical Contractors Association of Chicago and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134 have developed the Renewable Energy Training Field to meet the growing demand for commercial and residential applications of solar and wind energy.

There are less than 50 renewable certified electricians in the state of Illinois and about 500 nationwide, most of them in California, according to estimates.

The main certifying bodies are the North American Board of Solar Energy Practitioners (NABSEP) and Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Renewable energy training

Based in the grounds of the two electrical associations headquarters in Chicago, the Renewable Energy Training Field will offer training and simulations in different electrical and renewable energy processes, such as removing, cutting, re-welding, and reinstalling solar panels or making adjustments to a wind generator based on given site requirements.

Students at the facility will also learn battery storage techniques and energy transfer systems.

The training field will also be a centre for research and development where electrical contractors can engineer and demonstrate a client site application.

The public will be invited to learn about renewable energy applications and smart grid technology and how they can benefit from these technologies by saving money and reducing carbon emissions.

Describing the future demand for renewable energy as coming “like a freight train”, David Witz, president of the Electrical Contractors Association of Chicago, said: “We are doing what we can in the electrical industry to decrease dependence on fossil fuels and reduce carbon emissions.”

Don Finn, business manager and financial secretary of the IBEW Local #134, added: “The future is clear. There was one choice and that was to meet the growing demand for renewable energy.

“Contractors will be able to take requests from customers knowing they have electricians who are certified in renewable energy.”

The Renewable Energy Training Field will open on 16 September.