By GREGORY ZELLER //
Representing the largest public investment by any state in offshore wind workforce development, New York’s Offshore Wind Training Institute is now afloat. Seriously.
The State University of New York and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority launched (or is it re-launched?) the $20 million OWTI this week, aiming to train 2,500 workers through an “educational infrastructure” administered by NYSERDA, Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University.
Announced as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sweeping 2021 State of the State agenda, the OWTI will facilitate academia/industry partnerships focused on renewable-energy projects (both onshore and offshore), advancing wind-energy training and training for other jobs critical to New York’s clean-energy push – including 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind-generated electricity by 2035, as mandated by the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.
That all sounds great – and if it also sounds familiar, you’re not crazy: Cuomo previously “launched” the OWTI as part of his 2020 State of the State address.
But this time is different: The $20 million institute has officially issued its first solicitation, making $3 million available for training organizations ready and able to begin “early training and skills development” – including pre-apprenticeship training and training specifically for disadvantaged communities – in support of offshore wind’s burgeoning regional supply chain.
Stakeholders noted a new socioeconomic heft in the offshore wind push, following the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. State University Chancellor Jim Malatras, who thanked Farmingdale State and SBU for “lending their top-of-the-line facilities and the expertise of their faculty to this important effort,” credited the twice-launched training institute as critical to the state’s socioeconomic comeback.
“As we rebuild the post-COVID economy, we must focus on up-and-coming industries that are primed for growth,” Malatras added. “We will train thousands of workers annually for high-paying green-energy jobs and play a critical role in New York’s economic recovery.”
Applications for that first solicitation are now being accepted, with the awards slated for this summer and the early-training efforts expected to begin shortly thereafter. Farmingdale State is “already working to create the needed training and educational opportunities that can be in place by summer 2021,” according to FSC President John Nader, who noted that “preparing New Yorkers for the jobs of the future is central to FSC’s mission.”
“Farmingdale State College has been working closely with Stony Brook University and other partners in education and labor to make offshore wind an integral part of the energy and economic landscape of Long Island,” Nader said in a statement.
Future OWTI solicitations “will be informed by sector research” and include numerous grant and programming opportunities, with New York-based public and private colleges, independent training institutions, nonprofit organizations and labor organizations all expected to step up as training and academic partners.
The OWTI also figures to play nicely with a $10 million offshore wind training center planned as part of the Sunrise Wind Project, anchored by Suffolk County Community College. Both training efforts should be busy: In his 2021 agenda, Cuomo announced new offshore wind awards totaling nearly 2,500 megawatts, marking the largest offshore-wind procurement in U.S. history – with more than 5,200 permanent full-time jobs expected as a result.
“Governor Cuomo has taken the necessary actions to position New York as a national hub for the U.S. offshore wind industry, serving as a catalyst to attract significant private investments in the state and create thousands of well-paying jobs,” said NYSERDA Acting President and CEO Doreen Harris. “We are excited to partner with SUNY on this initiative.”