Hannah Grover, Farmington Daily Times. Published 10:35 p.m. MT June 26, 2020.
FARMINGTON — As Enchant Energy works to retrofit the San Juan Generating Station with carbon capture technology, San Juan College will train the workforce needed to make the project successful.
Enchant Energy, San Juan College and the City of Farmington signed a memorandum of understanding on June 26 that Mayor Nate Duckett said will turn the school into a “the centerpiece of (carbon capture, utilization and storage) training, bringing people from all over the world to Farmington.”
Duckett, Enchant Energy Chief Operating Officer Peter Mandelstam, San Juan College President Toni Hopper Pendergrass and Farmington Electric Utility System Director Hank Adair signed the agreement during a ceremony at San Juan College’s School of Energy.
Duckett said a well-trained workforce is essential for the success of the project, which aims at keeping the San Juan Generating Station open after the current operators, Public Service Company of New Mexico, leave in 2022. Duckett said the workforce is also important for the success of carbon capture projects globally.
Alicia Corbell, the interim dean of the School of Energy, said the college will start by looking at what the college currently offers and how it could fit in with developing a workforce for carbon capture. Some existing programs can already help develop the workforce needed. For example, the welding program can train workers needed during construction.
Building the carbon capture facility at the power plant will require approximately 2 million worker hours, Mandelstam said. That is solely for what is being called the carbon capture island that will be built at San Juan Generating Station.
He said a lot of the work will require specialized labor and Enchant Energy has instructed the contractor, Kiewit Power Constructors Co., to hire local employees whenever possible.
The memorandum of understanding goes through 2025 and includes the creation of carbon capture degree and certificate programs. That will allow students trained at San Juan College to work on carbon capture projects emerging all over the world.
Mandelstam said Enchant Energy is thrilled to partner with the college.
The college will be tasked with developing curriculum for plant operators, environmental operators, carbon capture technicians, fuel and water analysts, instrument control and electrical technicians, power plant mechanics, specialized welding and other positions as identified, according to the memorandum of understanding.
The agreement also requires the college to provide a minimum of 144 hours of related instruction per year to each apprentice and to coordinate a minimum of 2,000 hours of on the job training for each apprentice.
Duckett said the memorandum of understanding “adds another feather to our cap.”
Pendergrass said the partnership “will enhance our local economy by providing high-demand, high-wage jobs for our community.”