TMCC College News

TMCC and NV Energy Build Renewable Program

Posted: May 28, 2010

Looking for a way to renew the economy and help get people back to work? Look no further than the renewable energy industry. The state’s solar, wind and geothermal resources offer opportunities unmatched in any other region of the country. 

Building an academic program around this emerging industry wasn’t easy, especially in today’s economy. But Truckee Meadows Community, with the help of community business partner NV Energy, was able to turn an initial investment into millions of dollars for the program. In total, TMCC parlayed the $260,000 grants from NV Energy into nearly $2.3 million in state and federal grants to start a pipeline to supply the workforce – an exceptional, order of magnitude return on investment.

“TMCC has earned an excellent reputation for leading workforce development for Northern Nevada, and renewable energy is the most recent example of meeting the training need and meeting it quickly,” said Dr. Maria Sheehan, TMCC president. “The college continues to be on the cutting edge of industry, and renewable energy is a perfect example. Thanks to a recent congressional appropriation, TMCC will become the second provider of geothermal power plant technician training in the world.”

“We’re proud that our financial support has created additional interest and support in TMCC’s renewable energy academic programs,” said Michael Yackira, President and Chief Executive Officer for NV Energy. “TMCC’s programs are helping to create a skilled and capable workforce for the growing renewable energy sector.”

In November 2006, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) culminated a year-long, community-based economic development study, Target2010, to help shape future economic growth and quality of life in the region. Target2010 identified future economic needs of Northern Nevada, including economic diversification into new target industries. Clean or renewable energy was forecast as an area of investment of potential enormous return and growth, which EDAWN, NV Energy and its partners have pursued in their business recruitment and expansion efforts over the past four years.

Based on the Target2010 findings and NV Energy’s strategic goals, the power company began investing in TMCC’s new renewable energy associate’s degree program. In 2008, NV Energy provided $100,000 to fund the college’s solar demonstration lab at the college’s IGT Applied Technology Center and the college began offering renewable energy courses.

In 2009, the Nevada Legislature approved Senate Bill 152, the Green Jobs Initiative, which would use federal stimulus funding to train renewable energy technicians and teach them to conduct weatherization improvements on low-income housing and commercial buildings. TMCC testified in support of the SB152 and was selected by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) as one of three training sites. The DETR grant for this project was $555,800.

In 2009, TMCC also successfully wrote a $900,000 state energy sector partnership (SESP) and training grant to establish sector strategies that target energy efficiency and renewable energy industries that align with the governor’s workforce development vision and policies.

Based on this successful public-private partnership, in 2009 NV Energy also funded a $60,000 TMCC grant request for the development of a wind energy demonstration laboratory for college students to receive training on wind turbine installation and maintenance.

In 2010, The Community Services Agency of Reno (CSA) received $329,000 as part of the ExxonMobil/National Community Action Foundation Training Partnership grant application process. The CSA partnered with TMCC to provide weatherization training to individuals interested in a career in energy efficiency, and has long been the leader in weatherization for low-income families in Northern Nevada.

Also in 2010, TMCC received a congressional appropriation with the help of U.S. Senator Harry Reid through a U.S. Department of Energy grant of $500,000 for curriculum development and training of geothermal plant technicians.

Coupled with the state and federal grants, enrollment in renewable energy courses continues to increase and NV Energy recently funded a college request for $100,000 to build a renewable energy classroom at the IGT Applied Technology Center.

“TMCC was founded on its nursing program nearly 40 years ago, and more recently created a dental hygiene program based on community need. The question I answer most often is what does the college need? For us, the question is always ‘What does the community need that the college needs to provide?’ Renewable energy was an identified need, and TMCC immediately stepped up to provide high quality training,” Sheehan said.

TMCC is a comprehensive community college located in Reno, Nevada. The college served more than 32,000 students in 2009 in academic and career degree programs as well as customized training and continuing education courses. 

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