CGCC nets $250K toward wind energy training

Wind power is a fast-growing industry in our region. Columbia Gorge Community College offers training programs for the wind power generation industry.

Wind power is a fast-growing industry in our region. Columbia Gorge Community College offers training programs for the wind power generation industry.

Renewable energy investment in rural America generates much more than electricity; it produces permanent jobs, too. Nowhere is this more evident than in a new partnership between Caithness Shepherds Flat, one of the world’s largest wind farms, and Columbia Gorge Community College, which in 2007 established the first wind technician training program on the West Coast.

Supported by a 10-year, $250,000 financial commitment by Caithness Shepherds Flat, CGCC will continue educating the next generation of wind energy workers.

The equity investors in Caithness Shepherds Flat, which include Caithness Energy, GE Energy Financial Services, Google, Tyr Energy and Sumitomo Corp., have jointly designated the college, based in The Dalles, as its preferred workforce training partner for the wind farm, located near Arlington.

“The college has been a great partner and its highly trained students play an integral role in staffing and operating Caithness Shepherds Flat,” said Les Gelber, president and chief operating officer of Caithness Energy. “With this donation, we’re excited to grow our partnership with Columbia Gorge Community College over the coming years.”

Shepherds Flat is the first wind farm in the United States to use GE Wind Energy’s 2.5-megawatt turbines. Spreading across 32,100 acres, the Wind Farm harnesses wind energy by a fleet of 338 turbines that generate a peak output of 845 megawatts — sufficient power for 235,000 homes.

Currently, Caithness Shepherds Flat employs 45 full-time technicians, joining a combined renewable energy workforce of thousands of people in Oregon and Washington.

Columbia Gorge founded its renewable energy training program in 2007, becoming the first community college on the West Coast to train wind energy technicians.

The college offers a nine-month certificate and a two-year associate degree in renewable energy. Both programs focus on fundamental training in math and electronics to prepare students for a variety of careers in the clean energy industry.

The program was a catalyst that spurred a national effort to align similar training programs, and in 2011 was formally recognized as one of the first three colleges in the U.S. to receive the American Wind Energy Association’s “Seal of Approval” for wind technician training.

“Columbia Gorge is honored to be the preferred training partner of Caithness Shepherds Flat,” said Dr. Frank Toda, president of CGCC. “Investing in renewable energy directly translates into rural economic development, creating family-wage jobs and tax revenue to support vital services. Columbia Gorge Community College takes pride in driving this type of community impact.”

For information on renewable energy workforce training at CGCC, visit

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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