FirstEnergy Corp.'s Pennsylvania utilities – Pennsylvania Electric Company (Penelec), Metropolitan Edison, West Penn Power and Pennsylvania Power – are partnering with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College to reinstate an award-winning program to train the next generation of utility substation workers.
The Power Systems Institute is a two-year program that combines hands-on utility skills at Penelec's Johnstown training facility with academic coursework at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College in Johnstown. Program graduates will earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in electric utility technology.
"The Power Systems Institute already has provided FirstEnergy's Pennsylvania utilities with more than 240 highly qualified employees who are working in the field today, using the training they received from this unique program to help keep the lights on for our customers," said David J. Karafa, president of Pennsylvania Operations for FirstEnergy. "Because of Pennsylvania Highlands Community College's excellent facilities and quality academic programs, we made the decision to centralize our Power Systems Institute substation worker training program at this location."
"Having the FirstEnergy Power Systems Institute program presents a unique opportunity to continue our partnership with an important member of the Pennsylvania business community, while expanding the curriculum at our campus," said Pennsylvania Highlands Community College President Dr. Walter Asonevich.
FirstEnergy originally introduced the Power Systems Institute in 2000 as a way to help replace retiring line workers. Line worker and substation programs were established with colleges throughout the company's six-state service area, including Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. 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 reinstate the Power Systems Institute program, targeting a fall of 2015 enrollment class.
Program openings are limited, and applicants are assessed through a competitive, multi-step process.
FirstEnergy also has linemen training Power Systems Institute programs in Pennsylvania at Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood and Reading Area Community College in Reading.