Washington receives $11M for worker training programs

Gov. Chris Gregoire Friday announced that Washington state received more than $11 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to help support three smart grid worker training programs.

“These three awards are significant for Washington state,” Gregoire said. “Our state received more than 10 percent of the total award announced by the Department of Energy, which speaks highly of the Washington programs chosen to receive funding. These awards ensure quality training programs for hundreds of Washingtonians who will help modernize the nation’s electrical grid and implement smart grid technologies in our local communities.”

The US Department of Energy announced award selections totaling nearly $100 million for 54 smart grid workforce training programs across the nation. An estimated 30,000 Americans are expected to benefit from the funding. The programs will focus on training activities that support electricians, line workers, technicians, system operators, power system engineers, cyber security specialists and transmission planners.

In Washington state, funding was awarded to: the following:

— Centralia College ($5 million) to help develop an on-line smart grid training and information portal for utilities, businesses and consumers;

— Washington State University ($2.5 million) to help develop a comprehensive set of undergraduate and graduate courses for degrees and certificates in clean energy and smart grid engineering; and

— Incremental Systems Corporation ($3.6 million) in Issaquah to update real-time simulations to train smart grid operators so that system operators, engineers and students can experience and learn to prevent major power system events.

“Building and operating smart grid infrastructure will put tens of thousands of Americans to work,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Our investment will help ensure that we have the workforce in place to meet this need. This is a great opportunity for workers to upgrade their skills and earn more, or for laid off workers from other industries to start fresh in a new and growing field.”