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Gemini Energy Services Awarded Department of Energy Grant to Develop Veteran Workforce for the Wind Industry
May 31, 2012 - DOE Article:

In July of 2010, Gemini Energy Services was awarded a Workforce Development grant from the U.S. Department of Energy specifically to create a tailored training curriculum for military veterans to translate their military skill set into a technical career within the wind industry. The project included funding for training equipment, tools, formalized curriculum development, and specific wind turbine manufacturer training.

Military veterans have highly technical backgrounds; they include avionics technicians, radar technicians, aviation electricians, electronics technicians, and more. The skill sets these veterans have developed are applicable and necessary because of the increasingly advanced equipment being installed as wind technology evolves and matures. As a result, military veterans are able to hit the ground running in the wind industry; the training required for proficiency is quicker due to a fundamental and thorough understanding of component-level troubleshooting.

Gemini’s multi-phase workforce development curriculum includes wind-specific operations and maintenance training, component-level circuitry and schematic training, LOTO training, confined space training, self and assisted-tower rescue and competent climber certification, CPR/first aid certification, and an OSHA-10 hour certification.

Utilizing the DOE grant funding, Gemini was able to procure multiple wind turbine toolsets for classroom and on-the-job training, wind turbine tower rescue certification equipment, and wind-specific project safety equipment. To simulate wind project environments, Gemini installed turbine training equipment for realistic confined space and tower rescue training within the company’s headquarters. Additionally, Gemini implemented a state-of-the-art web-based system that allows all training to be tracked with uploaded certifications as backup documentation for remote project site access. Furthermore, as part of the program, technicians attended OEM-specific courses where they utilized their skills on highly technical projects including commissioning new wind turbines and conducted major repairs on existing project sites.

"The OEM training I received as part of the Workforce Development program with Gemini was extremely beneficial to building my experience in my wind career. We were trained on turbine electrical hazards and detailed schematics and, because of my background in the Air Force, I was able to pick up the concepts presented by the OEM trainer quickly and utilize those on their project sites as well as in other areas of my daily work,” said David Holland, senior Gemini technician and military veteran. “The safety practices as well the technical skills I learned have helped to enhance my overall performance on various jobsites, keeping myself and my coworkers safe and allowing the tasks to be performed in a timely manner."

The workforce development training program provides value to both turbine technicians and wind industry manufacturers, and has created jobs. Since the start of the training program, Gemini has expanded its workforce from 23 technicians to 104 technicians; and remains focused on training former military as they transition to the private sector.

“As the industry expands, we see a need for skilled technicians to support the increasingly complex wind turbines that are erected throughout the nation,” said Senior Director of Gemini, James Haley. “At the conclusion of the DOE project, Gemini will continue to hire and train former military veterans because of their technical backgrounds and the project success the wind industry has seen from their hard work.”
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