Midland College Plans New Class as Alternative Energy Companies Eye West Texas

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- There is no shortage of wind or sun in West Texas and soon homeowners can capitalize on the abundance of both by installing small wind turbines or solar panels. Solar & Wind Energy Applications, based out of the Netherlands, is looking to Midland to grow it's business. Local distributors Infinergy Wind and Solar, Inc. along with Basin Industries are teaming up with SWEA and Midland College.

"We live and die by the oil and gas business, but alternative energy is coming." Barry Horseman, director of work force education at Midland College says they plan to offer week-long training courses starting in August.

The Advanced Technology Center will offer the course to anyone who wants to learn how to install and repair small scale wind turbines and solar panels for home use.
"When you put it in your house it's going to slow that meter down and that's the goal reduce our bill and our dependency from energy from other sources," Joe Cobb with Basin Industries, said.

Colossal turbines are scaled down to fit into a standard backyard and under the SWEA system a converter box plugs into the wall and into either a solar panel or wind turbine routing the power generated back to the grid through the home's electrical wiring.

"This equipment is plug and play. You have two solar panels on the roof that plug by cable to the inverter," Mari van der Heijden, CEO of SWEA, said. 

Midland College officials say they hope the class and industry will help diversify Midland's economy while putting displaced workers back in a job.

"Whether you're just somebody who lost your job in the oil field, if you want to go to work for any wind farm you could come to this class and get some basics of how to do that," Horseman said.

The whole setup costs between $1,500-$2,500 dollars before installation but Cobb says federal rebates and rebates from the electrical company may help offset the initial start-up costs.

"This you know you're helping you see it in your bill," Cobb said.