Blue Ridge Energy and its community foundation, Blue Ridge Electric Members Foundation, have announced a $150,000 donation to help fund an Electrical Lineman Training Facility for Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.
“There is a significant shortage today and in the future for qualified line technicians and the expansion of CCC&TI’s Electrical Lineman program will help address this critical need for Blue Ridge Energy and other utilities,” said Doug Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of Blue Ridge Energy. “We are very fortunate to have this program in Caldwell County,” added Johnson, noting that it is one of only a few in North Carolina. “This is a growing career field that can offer well-paying jobs with a bright future for interested young men and women,” he said.
The Board of Directors for Blue Ridge Energy and the Members Foundation approved the donation, which begins in 2020 and will be spread out over three years as the new facility is constructed on the Hudson campus.
According to CCC&TI, the funds will support future plans that include construction of a new training facility on campus, which will provide the ability to expand the program’s enrollment capacity and produce more graduates to meet industry workforce needs.
“The growing demand for line workers is exceeding our capacity to train them and the gift from Blue Ridge Energy will help tremendously,” CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch said. “We appreciate Blue Ridge Energy's generous support. The success of our Electrical Lineman Program, now and in the future, wouldn’t be possible without the partnership of companies like Blue Ridge Energy.”
CCC&TI’s 20-week lineman program has attracted students from across the country, nearly all of which have immediate job placements. The program prepares students to enter the field as an apprentice for a Journey lineman, and combines classroom courses with lab hours for developing skills to install, operate, maintain and repair residential, commercial, and industrial electrical systems and associated power transmission lines.
Blue Ridge Energy has a long history of support for CCC&TI’s Lineman Program. The cooperative began working with CCC&TI nearly 10 years ago to assist in the development of a line technician program for the benefit of electric distribution providers in western North Carolina. At that time, there were no local training programs for easy education access to electric line technician training. The closest was in the Piedmont and the other in eastern NC. Blue Ridge worked directly with CCC&TI leadership to establish the program and align it with industry standards. Over the years, Blue Ridge has also donated assets such as trucks, poles, and other equipment to use for hands on training of students.