In the 1930s, wind contributed to an out-migration of Oklahomans in search of opportunities. Today wind propels economic development back into the state. The Canadian Valley Technology Center's wind technician training program is a success story. An example is a young man's recent journey on a bus from Kansas after he heard about the program. Arriving at night, the next morning he walked five miles from his motel to our El Reno campus. More than 70 attendees from 15 states joined him.
Canadian Valley wind courses include 13 certifications. Courses provide 30 hours of Occupational Safety and Health Administration training and experience operating in confined spaces. Job placement rates have remained near 100 percent. Several graduates are lead technicians or site supervisors at area wind farms.
Despite some industry attrition due to the uncertainty of whether federal tax credits will be renewed, Oklahoma's wind energy growth is far from peaking. The Southwest Power Pool estimates that more than half of the projected wind power produced in our region will come from Oklahoma in the near future. Oklahoma has 19 wind farms with enough electricity to power 650,000 homes. The $470 million, 300-megawatt Canadian Hills wind farm, slated to produce power by the end of the year, will make electricity to power 90,000 homes.
Scores of workers will be needed to operate and maintain these facilities. Canadian Valley is ready and able to train this workforce, another example of CareerTech's ability to be responsive to the needs of business and industry.
Greg Winters, El Reno
Winters is superintendent at Canadian Valley Technology Center.