RUTLAND — Green Mountain Power is forming a partnership with Rutland County’s four colleges to bring students and professors to the planned Energy Innovation Center and send EIC staff to the schools.
The agreement will bring a lecture series to the EIC, under construction at the former Eastman’s building on Merchants Row and slated for a fall opening. The center will also offer internships to students.
The announcement Thursday also included plans to bring EIC staff to the campuses for presentations within regular classes, a job-shadowing program, and work on energy efficiency at the schools.
The presidents of Castleton State College, College of St. Joseph, Community College of Vermont and Green Mountain College all signed a memorandum of understanding with GMP CEO Mary Powell at the utility’s temporary EIC headquartersin the Opera House in downtown Rutland.
Powell said success stories in American communities pull together businesses, social organizations and educational institutions.
“There is no way to accomplish the sort of innovation we want to do ... without having the incredible strength and backbone of higher education,” Powell said.
She said the lectures would raise awareness of the latest research regarding renewable energy technology, while the internships would contribute to the field’s future.
“That becomes the feeder workforce for the economic development that’s going to happen in Rutland,” she said.
While the utility stated an intent to cut positions through attrition when it merged with Central Vermont Public Service Corp., Powell said that with an aging workforce, she expected enough attrition to open up positions as well.
She also said she expects jobs to be created with “spinoff companies” as the utility continues to invest in Rutland.
CSC President David Wolk said his 12 years at the helm of the college had seen increasing
investment in the city. The college’s master plan included plans for more investment down the road, he said, especially as the college appears to have reached capacity at its campus.
He said classes at the EIC were possible.
Paul Fonteyn, president of Green Mountain College, said CVPS had been instrumental in the college achieving carbon-neutrality and expected the continuing partnership with GMP to make the school even greener.
Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation, said initial talks with the colleges focused on internships for students in the sciences, but that the utility was robust enough to offer opportunities to students from most majors.
Costello also noted that 75 percent of the interns the utility has taken on in the last decade have remained in Vermont — an attention-grabbing statistic in a state trying to retain young people.
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