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Wind Turbine Technician program in Norfolk first of its kind on East Coast

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Posted at 10:04 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 22:43:44-05

NORFOLK, Va. - You have to climb 310 feet into the air, from the ocean or the ground. If you aren't afraid of heights, there's a new program offered in Hampton Roads that allows you to work on wind turbines.

"Our first students were about six months ago," said John Blumenstein, instructor at Centura College in Norfolk.

Now, there are nine students enrolled in the Wind Turbine Technician program, the first of its kind on the East Coast.

"You will learn everything about putting a turbine together from the ground up," said Blumenstein.

Students are also learning about voltage, electrical safety climbing, torquing, cranes and rigging.

"As long as you are not scared of heights, you are good to go," said Blumenstein.

Last month, Gov. Ralph Northam attended the ribbon cutting for the first certified program. Northam said wind energy has the potential to bring around 14,000 jobs to the Hampton Roads area.

"They will need a whole bunch of technicians because you have 750 turbines going up from here to Maryland," he said.

Twenty-year-old Chance Payton is working towards that goal of installing and commissioning clean energy in the Commonwealth in this year-long program.

"I love learning about science and environmental things, so this seemed really interesting to me," said Payton.

Centura College believes the need for wind turbine technicians will increase about 60% over the next decade and predicts graduates will earn around $55,000 annually.

The trade school program comes just months after Northam signed offshore wind legislation to establish goes for wind energy production in Virginia.

"It is really exciting. You can travel all over the world if you want to," said Blumenstein.