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Nebraska IBEW Rolls Out New Wind Training Facility

October 27, 2009

The flat, breezy plains of Nebraska, have enough natural wind energy to power up much of the Midwest.  Looking to tap into that power is the IBEW and the Nebraska chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association, which just opened the first wind-training facility in the state.

IBEW members put the finishing touches on a new
55-foot climbing tower, which is part of the union’s
new wind power training facility in Omaha, Neb.

The new training program – jointly sponsored by Omaha Locals 22 and 1565; Sioux City, Iowa, Local 231; and Lincoln Local 265 – will prepare electricians to build and maintain wind towers – helping to fuel the green revolution in the Cornhusker state.

Says state NECA Executive Director Brian Sullivan:

The Midwest seems to be taking the lead when it comes to this new technology. We have the land and we have the wind.

Wind energy is expected to take off in Nebraska in the next few years due to new federal incentives for clean energy programs, and the IBEW is looking to position itself as the main provider of trained electricians for the growing industry.

Gov. Dave Heineman (R) told TV station KPTM during the facility’s dedication in Omaha:

We’re moving forward and you’re going to see (wind turbines) in Nebraska all across our lands over the next four (to) five years.

A group of 10 experienced journeymen electricians have already begun classes. The local expects hundreds of members will sign up for the nearly two-week training program in the coming year.

According to Local 22 Business Manager Gary Kelly, the training IBEW members will receive guarantee that they will be prepared to do the work starting from day one.

 The new facility has a 55-foot climbing pole which allows electricians to train using gear at high altitudes. Students will practice climbs and jumps using a safety harness.

Helping to make the project possible is a $100,000 grant from the Nebraska Worker Training Board.