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U. S. Commerce Department invests $4.4 million to promote green energy growth in Southern Idaho

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U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Fernandez said, “This EDA investment will support local businesses and strengthen the local workforce by helping to prepare College of Southern Idaho students for jobs in the state’s growing alternative energy sector.”

 

Press release from the US Department of Commerce:

WASHINGTON - U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John Fernandez today announced a $4.4 million U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the College of Southern Idaho (CSI) in Twin Falls to help build the Applied Technology and Innovation Center. The new Center will provide training to meet the demand for local technicians in wind, solar, hydro and geothermal energy; green construction; and the biofuel industry. 

“Encouraging innovation and the development of new technologies are critical to creating jobs and improving our nation’s economic competitiveness,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Fernandez said.  “This EDA investment will support local businesses and strengthen the local workforce by helping to prepare College of Southern Idaho students for jobs in the state’s growing alternative energy sector.”

“The College of Southern Idaho has excelled at providing its students with the knowledge and technical expertise that are so important to Idaho’s businesses and innovators,” said Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-2). “The school’s success in education and training along with its interest in renewable and alternative energy make it a perfect match for this program. Idaho is blessed with a wide array of energy resources and this grant will help expand CSI’s role in the development of those resources for many years to come.”

Don Hall, Mayor of the City of Twin Falls, Region IV Development Association Board member and CSI Law Enforcement faculty said, “The College of Southern Idaho’s Innovation Center project is another great example of partnering to create economic opportunities for our community.   With the Economic Development Administration acting as the catalyst, the project combines the strengths of the College, the Economic Development District, and local private sector businesses to train our workforce for sustainable, skilled, green jobs.”

“Across the region, we have witnessed the development of projects in the five major areas of renewable energy – hydro, geothermal, biofuel, wind and solar,” said Dr. Gerald Beck, president of CSI. “As these sustainable energy technologies come on line, the continued competitive advantage of the region will hinge on the availability of a trained workforce. The Applied Technology and Innovation Center will capitalize on green building practices to create a state-of-the-art facility that will position the College to provide the training necessary to keep south-central Idaho at the forefront in alternative energy.  The new LEED certified building will greatly facilitate the training of the local workforce for the jobs that will define the region.” 

“I have worked with EDA for almost 31 years and this announcement is unique in method and substance,” said Joe Herring, President, Region IV Development Association.”

Driving the demand for skilled employees in green energy are recent energy development projects in the region, including the construction of more than 450 wind turbines, the development of the Raft River geothermal electrical power project south of Twin Falls, and the planned installation of a 150,000 panel solar energy array in Jerome County. Without the skilled and trained alternative energy workforce that the College of Southern Idaho will be able to train as a result of this grant, development of this industry would be significantly limited.  The state’s wind turbine farms in the Twin Falls area and East Central Idaho will total over 544 megawatts by the end of this year, producing over $700 million in private sector investment for this sector alone.  In addition, with over 500,000 dairy cattle, Twin Falls area dairies, such as Rock Creek Bettencourt and Whitehead, have $14 million biomass projects using anaerobic digesters and manure-to-energy power plants.  This is on top of the $40 million investment in the geothermal power plant just south of Twin Falls which will produce up to 36 megawatts, the 150,000 panel solar array just north of Twin Falls, and the 13 hydro power plants along the Snake River, which runs through Twin Falls and south central Idaho.

The Applied Technology and Innovation Center will be a 29,600-square-foot, high-technology LEED certified facility located on CSI’s campus that will help CSI meet the ever-increasing demand for a trained workforce to fill the region’s jobs in alternative energy and applied industrial mechanics.  The building will have green energy components such as exposed mechanical systems, measurement and verification equipment, solar photovoltaic and wind energy components, day lighting, natural ventilation, and geothermal heat.  These green components will be utilized in the CSI curriculum. 

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov):
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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