When New Jersey officials created the Offshore Wind Safety Training Challenge grant competition earlier this year, they hoped the winning entry would help the state establish a training program that would be an example for the industry — and do so while creating opportunities in the industry for a diverse set of workers.
A proposal by Atlantic Cape Community College appears to do just that.
On Tuesday, state officials announced Atlantic Cape has been selected as the winner — and that it will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education for a $3 million grant to develop a Global Wind Organisation-certified training program and facility to be operational by the end of 2022.
Funding for the grant comes from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Clean Energy Program.
Atlantic Cape’s proposal included extensive stakeholder support; identified opportunities for collaboration across stakeholders, including the city of Atlantic City, labor unions, chambers of commerce, Stockton University and the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City; and demonstrated a commitment to prioritizing diversity and inclusion.
The college’s GWO-certified partners are Arcon Training Center, a woman-owned business that recently executed a similar project in Maryland, and AIS Training and 3t Energy Group, which both have significant experience running GWO-certified programs in the United Kingdom.
In addition to developing the training program, Atlantic Cape will build a 1,700-square-foot addition at its Atlantic City campus for the Basic Safety Training modules and utilize a rehabilitated section at Gardner’s Basin for the Sea Survival module. This facility will be strategically located near established offshore wind lease areas off the coast of New Jersey and in close proximity to the proposed Ocean Wind Operations and Maintenance port in Atlantic City.
“Training and certifying New Jersey workers for jobs in offshore wind is a critical aspect of growing this important new industry in New Jersey and will ensure in-state candidates can benefit from its many exciting, once-in-a-generation opportunities,” BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said. “NJBPU is proud to provide the funding to support Atlantic Cape’s proposal to establish this important safety program in Atlantic City.”
Atlantic Cape President Barbara Gaba said the school is thrilled to be able to play a big part in the industry.
“Offshore wind is an exciting industry that will open doors for thousands of New Jerseyans, and we are thrilled to play a part in preparing students and workers to participate in this exciting new industry at our Worthington Atlantic City Campus,” she said. “We appreciate the support Gov. (Phil) Murphy and the (New Jersey Economic Development Authority), OSHE and NJBPU are providing to make this possible, and look forward to launching this new program in the near future.”
Offshore wind is a rapidly expanding international industry that Murphy has prioritized as a target sector for driving long-term, sustainable economic growth. To date, the NJBPU has awarded two offshore wind solicitations. Ørsted’s 1,100 megawatt Ocean Wind project won the first solicitation in June 2019, and last week the NJBPU awarded a combined 2,658 MW of offshore wind capacity to EDF/Shell’s Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and Ørsted’s Ocean Wind II. This award, which will bring New Jersey’s total planned offshore wind capacity to over 3,700 MW, is the nation’s largest combined award.
To ensure equitable access to the economic opportunities offshore wind creates, Murphy established the WIND Council in 2019 to engage industry and local stakeholder groups to evaluate New Jersey’s existing workforce development assets and identify gaps that must be addressed to strengthen the state’s leadership position in offshore wind.
One of the key workforce development needs the WIND Council identified is the creation of opportunities for workers to receive GWO Basic Safety and Sea Survival training.
The GWO is a nonprofit body founded by leading wind turbine manufacturers and operators that aims to support an injury-free environment in the wind industry. It has set the industry-recognized standard for safety training, and many manufacturers and owners of wind turbines require workers to obtain certifications by completing these trainings. To achieve New Jersey’s target of generating 7,500 MW by 2035, at least 1,825 workers will need to complete GWO Basic Safety and Sea Survival training between 2023 and 2035.