Salisbury sees potential in developing wind energy jobs

Katarina Enerfelt of Arcon Training Center in Salisbury, right, and Geoff Croft of AIS Training in northeast England, sign a deal for Arcon to provide training for offshore wind projects in the United States. Standing in back are Salisbury Mayor Jake Day, left, and Wicomico County Council Vice President John Cannon.

Salisbury-based Arcon Training Center will soon offer training for workers in offshore wind projects under a deal signed Thursday with the largest wind trainer in the United Kingdom.

Arcon will be the first Global Wind Organisation-accredited training center of its kind in the mid-Atlantic region and is expected to begin teaching skills and offering required safety training at its Northwood Drive facility in April, Arcon President Katarina Ennerfelt said during a signing event.

“This is truly a significant day — a game changer,” said Mike Dunn, President and CEO of the Greater Salisbury Committee, who hosted the event.

Ennerfelt said she met Geoff Croft, business development manager of England-based AIS Training during a trip to London last year and the two began discussing a collaboration.

A proponent of offshore projects for years, Ennerfelt said she also has advocated for jobs and education in the labor market.

Her company, Arcon Welding, started a training center for welders several years ago. Now it will begin training for offshore wind.

“To be part of something that will create thousands of jobs and opportunities for people in the Delmarva area is truly an amazing feeling,” she said.

Salisbury is close to several airports, waterways and wind project locations. It also offers lower cost accommodations for workers-in-training than larger cities, Ennerfelt said.

Part of Arcon’s existing facility will be outfitted with a 23-foot training tower, climbing and rescue platforms and a rope access area for lifting and rigging during the first phase of the training program.

The initial Global Wind Organisation courses that will be offered include working at height, manual handling, fire awareness, first aid and sea survival. The training program will be developed in several phases over the next two years and will include more specialized courses such as enhanced first aid, advanced rescue training and slinger signaler training, company officials said.

AIS Training, part of the 3T Energy Group, is the UK’s largest wind training provider and operates its Renewable Energy Training Center of Excellence in northeast England and will serve as a consultant to Arcon.

Croft said the offshore wind industry is growing rapidly in the U.S., with several projects planned along the East Coast, including the Skipjack Wind Farm off Ocean City.

“Maryland was therefore a natural choice to fully support our first U.S. renewable energy training village,” he said.

The new training center comes on the heels in Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan for Maryland to achieve 100 percent electricity from clean sources by 2040. The Clean and Renewable Energy Standard plan which the governor will submit on the first day of the General Assembly in January focuses on affordable clean energy, climate change and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.

The renewable energy sector is expecting 40,000 new jobs to be created nationwide by 2030.

Salisbury Mayor Jake Day said the training center will have a positive impact on the city and the entire region.

“By teaming with AIS to build a world-class training facility for offshore wind professionals, Arcon is putting itself, the city of Salisbury and the state of Maryland at the vanguard of the rapidly expanding renewable energy economy in the United States,” he said.

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