Durbin Announces Recovery Act Funding To Train Workers In Renewable Energy Field

[JOLIET, IL] – More than 100 area workers will receive green industry job training and a leg up in the job market as a result of a $380,000 Energy Training Partnership Grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said today. The funding, distributed through the National Ironworkers Training Fund (NITF), will train displaced workers in the specific skills needed for wind turbine construction and maintenance.


“During the past year, 3 million Americans have found new jobs or kept the jobs they had because of the Recovery Act. With this program displaced worker will acquire the skills they need to find jobs in the growing renewable energy field,” Durbin said.


As of mid-July, Illinois had received over $2 billion from the Recovery Act for transportation, energy, and other shovel-ready projects. According to the Council of Economic Advisers, this funding has created 140,000 jobs in Illinois since 2009.


This $380,000 grant is part of more than $1.9 million awarded to the NITF nationwide. Out of 150 applicants to the NITF, funding was distributed to only five communities—including Joliet. The region was selected based on its strong community partners and because its projected number of wind turbine projects, 30 during the next two years, is the highest in the nation.


Once wind turbines have been erected, they require continued maintenance, which means a continued demand for skilled laborers. Most ironworkers are already able to safely erect wind turbine components, but need to be trained in additional maintenance skills, such as tower climbing and tower rescue. Once they receive these credentials, workers can earn an hourly wage of up to $40 per hour.


“When I come back to Illinois and travel around the state, I am no longer surprised to see wind turbines sprouting up around fields of corn and soybeans,” Durbin said. “Graduates of this training program will be in a better position to secure the kind of well-paying jobs that can support a family in a growing industry that is one of our country’s most valuable sources of clean alternative energy. This type of training is exactly what we should be doing: helping Illinoisans prepare for where the jobs will be in the future.”


Last year, the United States added 10,000 megawatts of wind energy—expanding total wind capacity by 40 percent. With the American wind industry looking to increase production even further, and provide 20 percent of the country’s electricity needs by 2030, there is an increased demand for ironworkers with a specific set of technical skills to install and maintain wind turbines.