Major Job Training, Scholarship Commitment Announced for High Plains Technology Center and Oklahoma Panhandle State University to Support Wind Catcher Jobs Pipeline

Wind Catcher Energy Connection project partners Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO), Invenergy and GE Renewable Energy today announced a partnership with High Plains Technology Center (HPTC) and Oklahoma Panhandle State University (OPSU) that, pending regulatory approval of the proposed Wind Catcher Energy Connection, will equip students for jobs in the wind energy sector. The partnership is set to provide $200,000 in total scholarships as well as state-of-the-art training equipment and programming for students.

Through this commitment, HPTC will expand and modernize its existing wind technician training program in Woodward, including doubling student enrollment. OPSU and HPTC also intend to work together so that OPSU students can earn credit hours towards their associate degree by completing the wind technician certification program at HPTC.

PSO and Invenergy are jointly contributing the $200,000 in scholarship funding, which will cover half of all tuition costs for individual students to complete the HPTC wind certification program. GE Renewable Energy will donate and install equipment at HPTC’s training facility, including a GE turbine hub and machine head, to prepare future wind energy technicians through hands-on lab experience. Additionally, GE’s Renewable Energy Learning Center (RELC) will partner with HPTC to provide additional training sessions for local instructors to deepen their knowledge base.

“The Wind Catcher project isn’t just about harnessing Oklahoma’s rich energy resources, it’s about creating family-sustaining job opportunities for Oklahomans,” said Stuart Solomon, President of PSO. “This partnership with High Plains Technology Center and Oklahoma Panhandle State University will create a jobs-ready workforce to continue Oklahoma’s energy leadership long into the future.”

Wind technician is the second-fastest growing occupation in the United States, and local students and veterans certified as wind technicians through the program will be eligible for hiring opportunities at the Wind Catcher wind farm, which is currently under construction. This program will enhance HPTC’s role as part of Oklahoma’s CareerTech system of career and technology education centers that contribute to economic development across the state.

“This announcement demonstrates one of the many opportunities Wind Catcher and the wind industry in general create for our region,” said Oklahoma State Representative Casey Murdock. “The training and scholarship program will strengthen our work force and prepare students for high quality jobs close to home. I'm proud to see the Wind Catcher partners, HPTC and OPSU working together to make this happen.”

“I graduated from the HPTC wind program, and I am extremely grateful for what the people and training at High Plains brought me,” said Ike McVicker, HPTC graduate and Site Manager at NRG’s Sleeping Bear/Buffalo Wind facility. “From troubleshooting complex electrical issues, to hands-on mechanical and hydraulic systems, their training covers it all. It’s amazing to have a job in an industry I love, and to be in a position now where I’m the one hiring technicians!”

Dwight R. Hughes, Superintendent/CEO of HPTC said, “Wind energy is the second-fastest growing employment sector in the United States, and this is a tremendous opportunity for students in northwest Oklahoma to be able to train to be a part of it. With the known skills gap within the state and the opportunity the Wind Catcher project represents, this partnership demonstrates CareerTech’s agility in responding to industry workforce needs when we are at the table.”

Tim Faltyn, President of OPSU said, "The Wind Catcher investment will provide world class opportunities for our students to get the technical training they need to enter the rapidly growing wind energy field. This is what the model of the future looks like; CareerTech and Universities working together to equip students for the jobs of the future.”

Allan Case, President, Woodward Industrial Foundation said, “In Woodward, narrowing the skills gap and providing attainable, meaningful employment to our youngest workers will pay dividends for generations. The Woodward Industrial Foundation expresses its sincere appreciation to Public Service Company of Oklahoma, Invenergy and GE for their generous contributions at High Plains Technology Center that will ensure more students can access the training and certification necessary for careers in the wind energy sector.”

Alex George, Senior Vice President of Asset Management, Invenergy, said, "Whenever we build projects, we look to hire locally, and this program will make sure we can hire well-trained workers from the Oklahoma Panhandle when Wind Catcher begins operations. Our hope is that enhancing training and providing scholarship opportunities, will attract even more students to already strong programs."

Patricia Popp-Stanton, spokesperson for GE's RELC team, said, "GE is very excited to partner with Invenergy and High Plains Technology Center to enhance their training program and prepare wind technicians to support the Wind Catcher site. Our team will work with each of the organizations involved to ensure this program delivers on its promise to benefit all Oklahomans."


About Wind Catcher Energy Connection

Wind Catcher Energy Connection is a $4.5 billion infrastructure investment that will bring Oklahoma wind power to more than 1.1 million energy customers in the South Central U.S. Construction of the wind farm and power line will create 4,000 direct, family-sustaining jobs for workers and support the creation of an additional 4,400 jobs, as well as supporting 80 permanent, full-time operations jobs. The 2,000-megawatt wind farm will generate power from 800 state-of-the-art GE 2.5 megawatt turbines. Construction began in 2016, and operations are expected to begin by the end of 2020.





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