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Illinois Community Colleges Get State Grants For Green Job Training

Community colleges will split more than $2 million in federal stimulus dollars for energy efficient projects and job training for students.

The Illinois Green Economy Network is a consortium of nearly 50 community colleges with members that include Parkland College, Lake Land Community College in Mattoon, and Danville Area Community College.

Warren Ribley heads Illinois' Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Ribley explained that the funds will also help dislocated workers, and allow them earn associate degrees as trained wind turbine technicians and similar jobs.

"We're far beyond seeing energy efficiency and renewable energy be sort of 'buzz words' and a fad," Ribley said. "It's here to stay. It has to be part of our domestic energy policy."

Danville Area Community College will get more than $400,000 to start up a wind energy technician program. Jeremiah Dye, an instructor in that program, has over 70 students right now, but expects that to grow. Dye said the funds will bring wind turbine components to campus.

"Right now, we have to travel to get to a wind turbine that we can actually have access to to do training and things like that," Dye said. "And you kind of wait for one to go down, and then they call and say 'hey, if you want to go along on this maintenance repair, you can. And so it really limits what I can do hands on. But with this grant, we're able to require some different real-world training situations."

Meanwhile, Parkland College is getting $375,000 to train analysts to inspect buildings for modern energy building codes, and Lake Land is getting a series of grants totaling more than $800,000 - projects there include the construction of two wind turbines and initiating a thermal efficiency program.

Ribley was at Parkland College in Champaign on Friday to announce the grants.

(Photo by Jeff Bossert/WILL)

Categories: Education, Government, Politics