Workforce for wind farms sought

The Brave Tern, a 433-foot-long vessel with cranes capable of lifting 800 tons, anchored in the East Passage in 2015.

The Brave Tern, a 433-foot-long vessel with cranes capable of lifting 800 tons, anchored in the East Passage in 2015.

When the wind farm in Block Island Sound was being constructed, Jamestown residents were first-hand witnesses to the machinery needed to undertake such a project.

Tugboats escorting a barge with a 400-ton steel frame sailed by Fort Wetherill. The Brave Tern, a 433-foot-long vessel with cranes capable of lifting 800 tons and a self-propelled jack that can lift the hull 480 feet above sea level, anchored in the East Passage. The liftboat Robert, with three legs 335 feet long that bury into the seabed while the hull stays above water, traversed under the Pell Bridge.

Now, for Jamestown students in awe of those sights in 2015-16, it just got easier to get up close and personal.

A “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to train workers for a job to allow them to curb climate change while getting paid will be offered in Rhode Island in 2023, Gov. Dan McKee announced Aug. 3.

Through a partnership with Revolution Wind, Orsted and Eversource, which are the companies spearheading the development of offshore wind farms in Rhode Island waters, the Community College of Rhode Island will become the first school in the Ocean State to offer certification from the Global Wind Organization.

Two tugboats escorting a barge with a 400-ton steel frame sailed by Fort Wetherill en route to the Block Island wind farm for installation in 2016.

Two tugboats escorting a barge with a 400-ton steel frame sailed by Fort Wetherill en route to the Block Island wind farm for installation in 2016.

This partnership comes a month after the need for an offshore-wind workforce was elevated. Legislation sponsored by Jamestown’s state senator, Dawn Euer, mandates Rhode Island Energy to issue a procurement to develop at least 600 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by Oct. 15.

McKee said the collaboration to create this workforce will create good-paying union jobs while fighting the climate crisis.

“Rhode Island has momentum,” he said.

Students enrolled in the global wind program, which is the international standard for training offshore laborers, will learn first aid, manual handling, fire awareness, working at heights and sea survival. The course takes 44 hours to complete and the certification is valid for two years.