US unveils $100 million smart grid training initiative

Credit: first: utility

The US Department of Energy yesterday unveiled a $100 million initiative aiming to train more than 30,000 to work in the smart grid industry.

The investment will support 54 smart grid workforce training programmes for community colleges, universities, utilities and manufacturers.

Efforts will be aimed at electricians, technicians, system operators, power system engineers, cyber security specialists and transmission planners, providing training on transmission and distribution systems, intelligent grid systems, smart meters and advanced communication networks.

Funding will be split, with $41.6 million going to universities, community colleges and technical schools to develop training or retraining models, and $57.7 million to workforce training and retraining for utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers.

“Building and operating smart grid infrastructure will put tens of thousands of Americans to work,” commented Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “[This] investment will help ensure that we have the workforce in place to meet this need.”

He added that the programmes are an opportunity for existing workers to upgrade their skills or give the unemployed a way into a new field.

The GridWise Alliance says it is “thrilled” about the announcement, adding that workforce education is a critical part of implementing a smart grid.

“These smart grid training programs will equip our utility workforce with training building blocks and best practices for additional skills in information and communication technologies,” says president Katherine Hamilton.

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09 April 2010