Wind energy partners commit $1 million to help prepare workforce in emerging New England offshore industry

·3 min read

A partnership between Rhode Island and higher education, labor and workforce development organizations is working to prepare the state’s workforce for the emerging New England and New York offshore wind industry.

The Revolution Wind project of Eversource and Danish energy company Orsted has committed $1 million to support the partnership between the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Rhode Island Commerce and Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council and Building Futures.

Revolution Wind will provide 400 megawatts of power to Rhode Island and 304 megawatts to Connecticut when it’s estimated to be fully operational in 2025.

The training partnership will establish a Global Wind Organization training certificate program at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Flanagan campus in Lincoln. Workers will receive training in first aid, manual handling, fire awareness, working at heights and sea survival.

Students will begin to enroll in early 2023. The 44-hour course will result in certification valid for two years. GWO training is a critical component in ensuring safe working conditions and practices in the industry.

In Connecticut, state officials are modeling workforce training on a successful program by the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board recruiting and training workers at submarine manufacturer General Dynamics Electric Boat, said Alexandra Daum, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Underwater welders and workers in operations and maintenance will be in particular demand, she said.

Connecticut has submitted an application to the federal Economic Development Administration, though the final dollar amount is not known and will change, Daum said. Avangrid, which has an offshore wind site, Eversource and Orsted have committed $1.7 million, she said.

Eversource and Orsted have partnered in Connecticut with Mystic Aquarium to provide $1.25 million to support marine research and protection of wildlife, educational programming and career resources for children and women, Eversource said.

The two companies also have partnered with Project Oceanology in Groton to provide $950,000 to launch a K-12 STEM program focused on climate change, sustainability, energy generation and offshore wind.

And the energy partners have selected ThayerMahan in Groton to monitor wildlife and sea beds related to the Revolution Wind project and a consortium of fishermen at Sea Services North America in Waterford to provide support vessels and monitoring services during the construction of the offshore wind farms.

The State Pier in New London is being enlarged and upgraded in a $236 million project for wind turbine assembly before the towers are towed out to the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region, or seCTer, an economic development organization, is detailing a set of proposals for workforce and site development..

Eversource, which committed $225 million to a 50-50 partnership with Orsted in 2019, is reviewing its continued investment in offshore wind. Chief Executive Officer Joe Nolan told industry analysts on a conference call July 29 that ocean tracts it shares with Orsted are “about the most attractive in North America.” He cited high average wind speeds, moderate depths and strong public policy support.

Eversource will have more details by the end of the year about a potential buyer of its stake in its venture with Orsted, he said.

Stephen Singer can be reached at