MOOREFIELD — The Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College Foundation has received a $20,000 grant award from the Clearway Community Benefit Fund to establish a scholarship fund to support students enrolled in Eastern’s wind energy technology program.
The Clearway Community Benefit Fund was created by Clearway Energy Group to support charitable projects and programs in the communities surrounding the Black Rock wind farm near Elk Garden, which began operations earlier this year. The community fund is managed by the US Wind Force Foundation, and award selections are made by a committee of Grant and Mineral County residents.
Eastern is home to the only wind energy technology degree program in West Virginia, with options to earn an applied associate degree or a certificate in wind energy technology.
As the college’s service district is situated in the geographic hub of this growing energy industry, Eastern is poised to bolster workforce development in the region. Five of Eastern’s recent wind technology graduates have already been hired by Clearway Energy Group to support operations at Black Rock and the nearby Pinnacle wind farm.
“The new scholarship fund will help students who hope to enter the expanding industry of wind technology in the Mountain State,” said Robert Burns, director of non-profits at Eastern. “By providing students with scholarship opportunities, we improve their success rate by better ensuring they can afford travel, time away from employment, and any other personal expenses.”
“We are humbled to play a role in educating West Virginia’s energy workforce,” said Doug Vance, plant manager of Clearway’s Black Rock wind farm and a board member of the US Wind Force Foundation. “Wind turbine technician is the 2nd-fastest growing occupation in the United States and Clearway is honored to work with Eastern to create and retain well-paying positions in West Virginia.”
The college foundation is using the grant award to create a permanent endowment for its U.S. Wind Force Scholarship Fund, which will award $1,000 annually to a wind energy technology student. Priority for scholarships will 1st be given to qualifying students in Grant and Mineral counties, and 2nd to students from Hardy, Hampshire, Pendleton or Tucker counties.