The Deepwater Wind offshore wind farm near Block Island in 2016.

The Deepwater Wind offshore wind farm near Block Island in 2016. Credit: Newsday / Mark Harrington

Seven SUNY schools, including three on Long Island, will share $4 million in state grants for workforce training in the offshore wind industry, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office announced Friday.

Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College and Suffolk County Community College will use the funds to expand training programs and in outreach to draw diverse communities into an expanding renewable energy sector, college officials said. 

A second round of awards will be announced this summer, for a total of $8 million distributed through the Offshore Wind Technology Institute, a State University of New York entity co-administered by Farmingdale and Stony Brook.

The institute oversaw review of proposals and helped choose winning proposals to promote equity and "workforce development and training for jobs in constructing, manufacturing, installing, operating, and maintaining offshore wind farms."

As a partner in the institute, "we have a shared commitment to establishing offshore wind as an integral part of the energy and economic landscape on Long Island and throughout New York State," said Farmingdale State College President John S. Nader. 

Farmingdale will get $900,000 for three programs, including a new two-semester microcredential course addressing near-term or immediate needs of the offshore wind industry, which is opening wind farms off Montauk and Long Beach. It will focus on "monitoring the structural integrity of wind turbine blades and diagnosing micro-cracks."

A second program will offer safety and introductory concepts for a Wind Turbine Technician Certificate, and a third will offer free training workshops to minority and women-owned businesses.

Stony Brook University will receive approximately $500,000 in the grant awarded from the Offshore Wind Training Institute. The university is in the early stage of discussions regarding how this award will be used, school officials said.

Suffolk County Community College, which already hosts a Wind Training Center on its Brentwood campus funded by wind farm developers in partnership with labor unions, will now also expand its offerings. Its proposal asked for $499,392, to be spent over two years, to fund workforce training and for outreach to local high school students to draw them into the workforce pipeline. 

SCCC President Edward Bonahue said that depending on when the funding becomes available, programs could start this summer to familiarize students from Brentwood, Bay Shore and Wyandanch with the new industry and its technology. The student outreach meets one of the goals set forth when the state asked for proposals last October, which is to draw in a diverse potential workforce for well-paying jobs in an emerging clean energy economy.

"New York puts emphasis on outreach to youth populations that have not always been well represented in the tech sector and STEM, but this sector is a real pathway to the middle class," Bonahue said. "There is a real economic development aspect to this kind of outreach."

The college also would expand training in skills needed in wind energy, such as welding, manufacturing and composites, which are the materials used to produce wind blades, he said. 

SCCC has oversight but no direct role in the work of the National Offshore Wind Training Center, temporarily using facilities on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood to train existing workers on offshore wind turbines.

Training is led by Maersk Training, a global wind industry training company headquartered in Denmark, and is largely funded by Osted, the Danish-based company developing offshore wind farm sites 30 to 35 miles off Montauk. Bonahue said he understood about 50 employees of Orsted would begin training next month. 

At the moment, the temporary training site for offshore wind is outdoors, he said. "The first training we are introducing is helping people understand what it is like working on an elevated platform, called GUS, Get Up Safely," he said. "If they can't do that, there is no point to continue," he said, adding there will also be a swimming test.

The other campuses receiving awards are Alfred State College, University at Buffalo, Hudson Valley Community College and SUNY Polytechnic Institute. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect first name for SCCC President Edward Bonahue.

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