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TCC faculty get an up-close look at offshore wind project

TCC faculty Steve Capaldo at the wind turbines for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.

New jobs are on the horizon for offshore wind turbine technicians, welders, electricians and more to support Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) facility, which will include 176 wind turbines.

Tidewater Community College is gearing up to offer additional industry training. With help from the city of Virginia Beach, it’s investing in $300,000 worth of wind turbine equipment.

TCC has also developed a curriculum for Offshore Wind Energy Technicians. The new certificate will launch as the jobs become readily available.

There are currently two wind turbines located 27 miles offshore, with the remaining structures to be constructed up to 50 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.

This month, TCC faculty member Steven Capaldo, assistant professor in the Engineering, Maritime and Skilled Trades Pathway, spent the day on the water touring the area and getting an up-close look at the turbines. He traveled on a boat with Dominion Energy representatives and got an insider’s look at what’s to come.

“It was spectacular to see the structures and learn more about this vital program for our region,” Capaldo said.

Since 2010, TCC has offered a Career Studies Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies that prepares students for careers in the manufacturing and installation of clean energy technologies such as wind and solar. However, new classes have been designed with an emphasis on Mechatronics, Electrical Technology and Electronics Technology, which are specifically relevant for technicians for the offshore wind farm.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in 2022 that the mean average annual wage for wind turbine service technicians is $59,880. Technicians are trained to inspect, diagnose, adjust or repair wind turbines. They will perform maintenance on wind turbine equipment including resolving electrical, mechanical and hydraulic malfunctions.

The CVOW initiative will include the turbines, as well as three offshore substations, undersea cables and new onshore transmission infrastructure to deliver emissions-free wind power to homes and businesses.

TCC’s effort to train the next generation of wind energy technicians is being led by Dean David Ekker in the Engineering, Maritime and Skilled Trades Pathway and faculty members Capaldo and Anthony Jones, who teach the maritime trades.