Kalamazoo Valley Community College will provide two of the presenters at a three-day summit designed to chart a course that would make the Great Lakes region an economic power because of its wind-energy potential.

Cindy Buckley, executive director of training at the Michigan Technical Education Center that is home to the KVCC Wind Turbine Technician Academy, will be on a panel that looks at the skilled labor needed to construct offshore wind farms and maintain the giant turbines that are clustered there.

Her presentation is planned for 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, July 20, on the second day of “Freshwater Wind 2010: Building the Successful Business Case for Offshore Wind Development in the Great Lakes” in Cleveland. 

Tom Sutton, the academy*s instructional manager, will speak on “Servicing Offshore Turbines.”  In addition to the technological considerations in operating and maintaining offshore turbines, he’ll address safety-training requirements on Wednesday, July 21, at 3:15 p.m.

The keynote speaker will be U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Conference planners are bringing together developers, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, legislators, financiers, and other stakeholders who believe that wind energy, because it is the fastest-growing industry in North America, could be the force that leads to billions of dollars of investment and restores the economic might of the Great Lakes region.

Across this part of the United States, major developments are being proposed to take advantage of some of the most reliable and strongest wind resources in the world.

Several sessions over the three days will address the specific topic of tapping those resources by developing the offshore wind industry that is still in its infancy. Brown will look at the challenges and opportunities for doing that.

Another session is titled “Mother Nature:  Assessing the Environmental Impact of Offshore Wind Development in the Great Lakes.” Also on the agenda is a presentation that looks at “preemptive strategies used to address the most frequently encountered concerns raised by local communities” and ways “to increase public acceptance.” A wind-assessment study that focused on Lake Michigan is another topic.

Buckley’s audience will hear about KVCC*s second wind-turbine academy that started 26 weeks of intensive training on June 12. This class includes a female, three students from western states, and 11 from Michigan.

The first-of-its-kind training academy in the nation received 90 applications for the 16 slots. Six of those applicants have been accepted into the academy*s third edition scheduled to begin in January.

The academy graduated its first 16 technicians in April. Twelve of them have already been hired for state and global jobs, while the other four are being recruited.

Class No. 2 hails from Kalamazoo, Greenville, Clawson, Port Sanilac, Zeeland, Marcellus and Battle Creek in Michigan, along with Marana and Casa Grande in Arizona, and Carbondale in Colorado. 

The first female accepted into the program hails from New York. The other midwesterner calls Waukegan, Ill., home. Students from Pennsylvania and Kentucky will fill spots in January.

The academy received a $550,000 federal appropriation to purchase specialized laboratory equipment, including a 90-foot tower and turbine-unit platform that are scheduled to be installed in the M-TEC’s parking median for training purposes this summer.

For more information, contact Buckley at (269) 353-1250 or cbuckley@kvcc.edu. A video about the program is available at http://www.mteckvcc.com/windtechacademy.html

(c) 2010 WWJ Newsradio 950. All Rights Reserved.


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