EL RENO – Telecom company AT&T has provided $25,000 in scholarship money to encourage people to enroll in Canadian Valley Technology Center’s wind energy technician training program.
AT&T officials visited CV Tech’s El Reno Campus recently to make a formal check presentation.
The funds will pay tuition for adult men and women who otherwise would have had to self-pay, said Dr. Jay Watson, CV Tech Business and Industry Services Director.
Students under age 24, who have a high school diploma or equivalent and who live inside school district boundaries, already receive free tuition through the school’s Next Step Scholarship.
The wind energy technician program is a month-long training course that prepares people to work as Level 1 technicians on wind turbine farms throughout the state.
Watson said U.S. military veterans also receive free tuition as do many tribal citizens. Other tuition assistance is available to applicants, but Watson said there are still many applicants who cannot afford the program’s $1,300 tuition. This money will help pay for many of those who enroll in the coming months, he said.
In February 2018, AT&T inked a deal to buy more than 500 megawatts of power produced by wind farms in Oklahoma and Texas that were developed by subsidiaries of NextEra Energy Resources.
Watson said AT&T officials see the scholarships as a win-win, because they are investing in future technicians who potentially will work at regional wind farms.
Oklahoma ranks third nationally in energy produced by wind farms with 8,072 megawatts produced, according to information supplied by the American Wind Energy Association.
A megawatt is equal to 1,000 kilowatts or roughly enough electricity to power demand for up to 750 homes, based on average annual energy consumption.
The state has about 1,800 additional megawatts of new wind energy planned in upcoming projects, the report states. That represents a 22 percent increase.
Only Texas (24,899 megawatts) and Iowa (8,422) produce more. The Lone Star State is four times larger in land area than Oklahoma, though Iowa is 20 percent smaller than Oklahoma in terms of land mass. California ranks fourth at 5,885 megawatts of power produced by wind. Kansas is fifth at 5,653 megawatts.
Cumulatively, the U.S. produces roughly 97,000 megawatts of wind energy. That is more than 6 percent of the nation’s electricity or 24 million American homes, according to the report. Oklahoma ranks near the top in number of people employed in the industry at between 8,000 and 9,000 jobs. By comparison, Texas employs about 24,000.
Besides AT&T, other corporations who purchase a significant amount of wind power include Walmart, Shell Energy, Facebook, Royal Caribbean, T-Mobile and Nike.
CV Tech launched its wind energy technician training program in 2011. Through the use of simulators and wind tower scenarios, students are trained on the use of special tools and maintenance procedure with a strong emphasis on safety and rescue equipment at heights.
Graduates of CV Tech’s wind program usually receive between $17 and $19 per hour staring pay, Watson said. The program has produced nearly 600 graduates.
Watson said he is thrilled to be able to offer more opportunities to more students.
“AT&T is positioning itself as a renewable green energy company, and this scholarship money is a great example of that effort,” Watson said.
Those interested in CV Tech’s wind energy technician training program are encouraged to visit cvtech.edu or call the school at (405) 422-2202.