Potomac Edison is partnering with Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg, West Virginia, to offer its program to train the next generation of utility line workers.
The Power Systems Institute is a two-year program combining hands-on utility training at a Potomac Edison facility with academic and technical course work taught at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College. Program graduates will earn an Associate of Applied Science in Electric Utility Technology degree.
"We look forward to working in tandem with Blue Ridge to offer this great opportunity for those interested in a career in the utility industry," said James A. Sears, Jr., vice president of Potomac Edison. "Offering the Power Systems Institute training at Blue Ridge should help entice candidates living in our service area in Maryland and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia to enroll in the program."
"Developing relationships with industry partners is vital to the mission of our institution," said Dr. Peter Checkovich, president of Blue Ridge Community and Technical College. "This program produces skilled graduates who are in high demand in the electric utility industry. Students learn to provide an essential service and go on to serve the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia and the surrounding areas."
In previous years, the line and substation training for the Power Systems Institute in the Potomac Edison and Mon Power areas was through a partnership with Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont, W.Va. Now, line students in the Potomac Edison area will be trained at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, while substation electricians will continue to be enrolled at Pierpont, as will Mon Power line and substation students.
FirstEnergy originally introduced the Power Systems Institute in 2000 as a way to help replace retiring line workers. Over the years, programs were established at colleges throughout the company's six-state service area. With the economic downturn, in 2011 most of the Power Systems Institute programs were placed on hold because projected hiring needs did not support bringing in new students. As future manpower needs at FirstEnergy were re-evaluated, the decision was made to offer the Power Systems Institute line training program at Blue Ridge, targeting a fall 2015 enrollment class.