NextEra Energy Resources nacelle

NATHAN SIMPSON (left) and John Liewer, wind energy technology instructors at Northeast Community College, help guide a NextEra Energy Resources nacelle onto a foundation on the college’s Norfolk campus Tuesday. 

NORFOLK — The wind energy program at Northeast Community College has received two large pieces of equipment that will assist students in their training to become technicians.

Representatives of NextEra Energy Resources have donated a wind turbine nacelle and a rotor hub to the college.

Weighing about 180,000 pounds, the nacelle houses all the generating components that sit at the top of a 300-foot commercial wind turbine. The hub connects the blades to the main shaft and ultimately to the rest of the drive train.

Both components will be incorporated into Northeast’s program curriculum and will provide students with hands-on training.

“We are proud to partner with Northeast Community College and contribute to such a tremendous training program for wind turbine technicians,” said Phil Clement, NextEra Energy Resources project director. “Wind technician is one of the fastest growing jobs in the United States, so the direct experience these students can receive from working with the equipment will help them as they progress in their journey to becoming a wind technician.”

The decommissioned nacelle and hub that come from a wind farm in Lake Benton, Minnesota, join a 100 kilowatt Micon 108 wind turbine, a full-size turbine blade and other equipment as part of the Northeast program.

Shanelle Grudzinski, associate dean of applied technology, said the donation of the nacelle and rotor hub from NextEra Energy Resources would allow Northeast to elevate its curriculum in a tangible way by providing future technicians with real practice in their learning process.

“This equipment will expand our educational and training capabilities in the wind energy field and provide our students with a unique and valuable training experience that further increases their marketability for future employment,” Grudzinski said. “This generous donation will give our students access to full size equipment that not only enhances their skill sets, but helps us as a college to achieve our mission and goals of increasing student success, promoting student access, and preparing a globally competitive workforce.”

Since 2013, NextEra Energy Resources’ subsidiaries have been helping fuel Nebraska’s economic growth with two operational wind facilities in the state.

An affiliate of the company is constructing the Sholes Wind Energy Center in Stanton and Wayne counties. The wind project is bringing significant economic boosts to the local area, including hundreds of construction jobs and well-paying, full-time operations jobs. Once completed, Sholes Wind will provide clean, low-cost energy for years to come.

Wind energy is a rapidly growing industry in Nebraska and throughout the nation. Today, American wind power supports more than 100,000 jobs.

Northeast Community College is the only institution in Nebraska offering an associate of applied science degree specifically in wind energy. Students develop their basic skills with courses in wind energy fundamentals, basic electricity, wind turbine systems and continue with motor controls, mechanical systems and blueprint reading.

Students also learn rigging and climbing safety in and around a wind turbine. Successful graduates are prepared for a position in the wind energy industry.

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