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Alliant grant will double BTC power program

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Gazette Staff
June 3, 2008
— Alliant Energy said today it will provide a $50,000 grant to the Blackhawk Technical College Foundation that will double the size of the college’s Electric Power Distribution Program.

BTC will add an additional session for the program and hire an instructor to teach the new afternoon class. Alliant also agreed to supply nine, 40-foot electric poles and to help the college find a part-time lab assistant among its retiree group for the program.


“Alliant Energy strongly supports the occupational training goals of Blackhawk Technical College, and we see great value in expanding high-quality educational offerings like the Electric Power Distribution Program,” said John Kratchmer of Wisconsin Power & Light.


“Electric utilities continue to need apprentice line technicians and increasing the number of students in this program will be of great benefit to businesses and to the young people that will start down the path of an exciting and lucrative career.”


The grant will allow BTC to add a second parallel session to the Electric Power Distribution Program. Like the morning session, the new afternoon session will have 18 students, which gives the college the ability to train 36 people at the same time.


“We currently have about 50 people on the waiting list for the program and these additional dollars will assist more candidates in gaining access to a high-demand program and a great long-term career opportunity,” said BTC President Eric Larson.


Students that complete the two-semester program can pursue a variety of careers. These include: electric utility lineman, cable maintenance technicians, equipment operators, telephone repairman, cable TV installers, line inspectors, substation operators or cable splicers.


Alliant Energy and other utility companies are encouraging graduates of the program to join their businesses as apprentice line technicians, given that Wisconsin is experiencing a shortage of trained line technicians. Line technicians install, maintain and repair overhead and underground high voltage power lines and systems for the distribution and transmission of electrical power. It is not uncommon for apprentice line technicians to earn $48,000 to $60,000 annually and they can become journeymen line technicians and earn even more.


“With nearly 50 percent of Alliant Energy’s workforce being eligible to retire over the next 10 years, and with many of those individuals being in technical positions, our company sees firsthand the importance of supporting programs like these,” Kratchmer said. “As businesses, we must invest in education now to make sure we have a strong future workforce.”



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