Quality training is the foundation of any profession. And to promote skilled labor in the growing wind energy sector, the American Wind Energy Association recently recognized the top wind energy training programs in the U.S. — an important step as wind continues to outpace all other new electrical generation sources.

The AWEA, comprised of nearly 2,500 members, recently awarded three U.S. academic programs with its Seal of Approval, recognizing “programs that adequately equip students with the skills necessary to serve as an entry level wind turbine service technician in the wind industry.” The winning wind turbine programs are at Colombia Gorge Community College (The Dalles, Ore.), Iowa Lakes Community College (Estherville, Iowa) and Texas State Technical College (Sweetwater, Texas).

According to the AWEA, wind energy powers 2 percent of the U.S.’s electrical supply, but wind turbines, and the energy they harness, vie with natural gas as the leading source of clean energy generation. According to the AWEA, there are nearly 37,000 wind projects in the U.S., with the plains and coastal states supporting the majority. Nearly 7,000 additional projects are currently under construction.

As EarthTechling’s Susan DeFreitas notes, “AWEA sees its Seal of Approval Program as a quality assurance mechanism that will help strong programs stand out and fortify the industry as a whole with a pool of qualified technicians fully prepared to enter the wind power workforce.”