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BSC Completes Wind Technician Training Tower
Post Date: Oct 07 2016

By The Bismarck Tribune
When a worker has to perform maintenance on one of the hub of one of the many wind turbines dotting rural North Dakota skylines, they have to essentially walk backward off the side of the tower to get to the hatch leading into the hub. Then they must enter at an awkward 45 degree angle.

“Doing that for the first time at 280 feet can be nerve wracking,” said Bruce Emmil, dean of the Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence

The school has an indoor ladder tower where students have been able to do basic things, like learning how to work their climb assist, Emmil said, but completion of the new Nacelle Tower will provide more training and education to students.

“The new one is quite a bit taller,” Emmil said and allows them to practice more skills, trying out techniques and equipment for maneuvers like descents.

The 32-foot Nacelle Tower, located on the west lawn of the National Energy Center of Excellence, replicates the top portion of a commercial wind tower, complete with a nacelle, the large box-like component at the top of turbine towers, and a hub, which typically houses the generating components of the tower.

A commercial nacelle is about 300 feet tall but the lower height of the Nacelle Tower on the BSC campus allows practice in a more true to life, yet controlled environment. When students graduate, Emmil said, in addition to a degree, they will leave with a climb and rescue certification. About a dozen students are enrolled in the wind technician program this fall.

The site will also be opened up to industry partners wishing to conduct annual training.

The Nacelle Tower project began in 2014 after industry sought a place for safety, rope and rappelling training for wind technicians. Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and Minnesota Power each contributed $30,000 towards the project. A North Dakota Department of Commerce grant matched an additional $60,000. NextEra Energy also contributed $30,000 and final funding was secured from the Energy Generation Conference board and a U.S. Department of Labor Training for Regional Energy in North Dakota grant.

“It has been said that ‘Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.’ This new training facility will not only allow the students and our employees to learn to safely use their equipment and the critical techniques in a controlled environment, but it offers a cost effective way for them to acquire the repetitions that are vitally needed to be prepared,” Director of Generation for Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. Alan Welte said in a statement.

“Grants and partnerships with industry really enhance our ability to get students prepared to hit the ground running upon hire. Ensuring our students are well prepared for the workforce, and helping companies train their employees is work we are very proud to do,” BSC President Larry Skogen added.

BSC Completes Wind Technician Training Tower - The Bismarck Tribune
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