Nunez Partners to Develop Renewable Energy Curriculum

Nunez Ev Initiative

CHALMETTE, La. — Nunez Community College has signed a letter of intent with Energy Innovation of Norway to develop a curriculum and training center for construction and maintenance of on and offshore wind turbines. 

The Nov. 10 signing ceremony on the Nunez campus follows a trip taken this past summer by the Nunez executive team along with representatives from GNO Inc. and the St. Bernard Parish Government to the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island. That trip, to tour the United States’ first commercial offshore wind farm, inspired the effort to use Louisiana’s existing energy production foundation to bring wind power and other renewable energy sources to the Gulf South. 

“Seeing the turbines and how they were environmentally integrated really opened our eyes to the fact that our state has the existing DNA to readily support this emerging industry,” said Nunez Chancellor Tina Tinney at the Nov. 10 signing ceremony. “This agreement is a collision between the training and educational opportunities in the renewable energy sector and creating a hub that bringing jobs and industry to our region.” 

GNO Inc. President and CEO Michael Hecht said Louisiana’s established expertise in the oil and gas industry puts the state at an advantage in terms of adapting wind power and other renewable energies. 

“We had an idea that Louisiana, which has always been an energy state, could become the energy state of the future by leveraging all our assets,” said Hecht. “When we saw it in action, the first installation in America serviced by old-line south Louisiana companies like Gulf Island Fabrication (of Houma) and Edison Chouest (of Cut Off), that is when the inspiration turned to perspiration because we realized we can actually do this.” 

GNO Inc. recently announced that it had received a $50 million federal H2theFuture grant to develop a new energy cluster in South Louisiana. A portion of that grant will be used to establish the NeXus (New Energy Center of the United States) at the University of New Orleans, which will play a role in supporting Nunez’s new wind curriculum. 

Energy Innovation CEO Frank Emil Moen said his company’s work—training students to maintain turbines—is designed for export in order to advance renewable energy around the globe.  

“What we have been doing in Norway is all about collaboration in order to build a sustainable future for our children, and to do that we need global collaboration,” said Moen. “We need to start with training and education. That’s the key factor of actually solving the huge challenges we have towards creating solutions toward a sustainable future and scaling capacity to support renewable energy.” 

Nunez and Energy Innovation now begin the process of determining the specifics of the new curriculum to meet GWO (Global Wind Organization) standards. Projections show the wind industry in the United States will require a 60,000-person workforce by 2030. 

Nunez and St. Bernard Parish Government also used the signing ceremony as an opportunity to have their guests from Energy Innovation join them to cut the ribbon on a brand-new electric vehicle charging station in the AST Building parking lot on the Nunez campus—the first EV charging station in St. Bernard Parish. The EV station, which is open for public use at 3710 Paris Road in Chalmette, was installed by JuiceBar and Airware. The initiative to install public use EV chargers is parish-wide as the entire St. Bernard community commits to a focus on the future for its parish and its citizens.  

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