With the new popularity of wind power in the United States comes a need for skilled personnel to install and maintain wind turbines. According to a recent Associated Press report, community colleges are among the first to provide this training. A spokesperson for the American Wind Energy Association says that a two-person operations and maintenance team is needed for every 10 turbines. The program at Iowa Lakes Community College, Estherville, Iowa, was detailed in the article, but community colleges in Oregon, Minnesota, New Mexico, Wyoming and Kansas either have or are interested in similar programs, according to Al Zeitz, who started up the Iowa Lakes wind tech training program.
First Solar Inc., Tempe, Ariz., will build a 2 megawatt photvoltaic power plant on the roof of a commercial building in Fontana, Calif., for Southern California Edison (SCE). This is the first installation in SCE’s plan to install 250 megawatts of solar generating capacity on large commercial rooftops throughout Southern California over the next five years. SCE began installation of this initial project on July 14, and expects to connect the PV power plant to the grid in September 2008. In March, SCE and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the five-year solar PV installation project, which is the largest rooftop solar program ever proposed by a U.S. utility.
In addition, on July 10, the California Public Utilities Commission approved project terms of a 20-year power purchase agreement between First Solar and SCE for the sale of electricity generated by a PV power plant. First Solar plans to build the new plant in Blythe, Calif. The PV power plant will be a minimum of 7.5 megawatts, with an option by First Solar to increase the size to 21 megawatts, and when completed will be the largest ground-based PV power plant in California. First Solar will serve as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the PV power plant, and maintain the PV power plant over its lifetime. First Solar expects to begin construction of the PV power plant in 2009.