The Nebraska Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and Locals 22, 265, 231, and 1525 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) officially opened a new wind power training structure at the Electrical Training Facility in Omaha, Neb. NECA and the IBEW are partners in the Electrical Training Facility where the windmill is located.

"There's a critical need for a renewable- energy infrastructure in our state and region, and we’re extremely pleased to provide the best place to train the workforce necessary to meet that need,” says Brian Sullivan, executive director, Nebraska Chapter, NECA.

The new facility will include a custom replica of a power-generating windmill tower that measures 12 ft wide and 55 ft tall. “Basically, we want to make this training facility as close to the real thing as possible,” says Gary Kelly, business manager, Local 22. "To do this work successfully, electricians need to be trained inside of the actual windmill structure."

The training will include proper attire, learning to free-fall to safety, and a comprehensive core curriculum on the electrical technology used in power-generating windmills. Electricians will learn how to work in confined spaces, climbing and rescue, high-voltage splicing, first aid, Code of Excellence, applicable OSHA regulations, and specialized equipment. Workers who successfully complete the training will master a timed qualification test as well.

Nebraska’s electrical training facility participates in the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Center’s (NJATC) Green Jobs curriculum that was recently recognized by several members of Congress as a leading example of green-jobs training essential to creating a new energy economy in the United States. Mike Callanan, NJATC executive director, estimates that 34,000 IBEW electricians across the country have had some green training.

To learn more about Nebraska's electrician apprenticeship training program, contact Ed Karnish, Local 22 JATC training director at (402) 331-3103. To schedule a tour of the windmill training facility, contact Brian Sullivan, NECA Nebraska Chapter executive director at (402) 397-5105 or by e-mail at bsullivan@neneca.com.