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DOE Doles Out $100M Smart Grid Workforce Funds

The Department of Energy is announcing award selections for nearly $100 million for 54 smart grid workforce training programs that will help prepare the next generation of workers in the utility and electrical manufacturing industries.

These projects will leverage more than $95 million in funding from community colleges, universities, utilities and manufacturers to develop and implement training programs. The programs will train approximately 30,000 Americans to help modernize the nation's electrical grid and implement smart grid technologies in communities across the country.

The first recipient is Pepco, an engineering and service center in Rockville, Maryland, that is receiving $4.4 million in funding that the company estimates will train 700 new and existing employees.

The funded programs will focus on training activities that support electricians, line workers, technicians, system operators, power system engineers, cyber security specialists and transmission planners.

The workforce training initiatives fall into two categories:

Developing and Enhancing Workforce Training Programs for the Electric Power Sector for which 33 projects have been selected to receive $41.6 million. These new programs include projects at universities, community colleges and technical schools that will help serve as models for training or retraining workers across the country. The awards also include support for the Strategic Training and Education in Power Systems (STEPS) initiative, which will develop cross-disciplinary electric power system programs at the university and college level.

The Smart Grid Workforce Training will support 21 projects costing $57.7 million to conduct workforce training programs for new hires-including displaced workers and military veterans--and retraining programs for electric utility workers and electrical equipment manufacturers to further enhance their knowledge of smart grid technologies and their implementation. These projects will help ensure utilities and manufacturers have the necessary trained workforce to support the ongoing smart grid deployment projects, including Smart Grid Investment Grants and Demonstration Projects funded under the Recovery Act.

The biggest single grant is $5 million for a smart grid workforce-training program at Pennsylvania State University.

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