Local Colleges Start Up Wind Energy Programs

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Wind farms are popping up all across the Basin and with a developing industry there's a big demand for workers. Local colleges are stepping up to the plate and for the first time this fall, students have a chance to learn how it all works.

"It's a popular field right now and it's growing in the state of Texas," Dr. Clayton Alred, Vice President for Instruction at Odessa College said.

The Permian Basin might be known for an abundance of oil rigs, but alternative energy is quickly rotating across our West Texas skies.

"Texas has more wind turbines than any state in the United States," Dr. Alred said. "It's increasing rapidly in terms of the installations across this state. There are additional negotiations underway adding additional capacities in Ector and other counties as well."

For the first time this fall, Midland and Odessa Colleges are offering wind technology degrees.

They found most of their faculty members from the electrician program on campus.

"Community colleges have to be responsive to the needs of local businesses and training surveyers and wind technicians is just one of the ways we respond to the local business industry," Dr. Alred said.

Midland College tells NewsWest 9, classes haven't even started yet but already they have dozens of continuing education, college, along with high school students signed up for the new associate's degree - even students in Ft. Stockton have jumped on board.

"Oh yeah, it's really phenomenal," Gavin Frantz, Dean of Business Studies at Midland College said. "There's this extreme level of interest, I have to say, because wind farms are dotting up all over the Texas countryside."

The response has been so overwhelming, they're considering expanding to solar and nuclear fields.

"Our energy technology are high-tech industries and they're very lucrative paying industries and they're jobs with longevity to them," Frantz said.

Stable employment giving light to new opportunites.

"We recognized it as a growing industry and wanted to respond to stay ahead of the curb for the needs that exist out there for trained employees in this area," Dr. Alred said.