Starting in January, Ashland Community and Technical College will offer two new programs aimed at producing workers for the electric power industry.

The lineman program will train workers to install and maintain electric service to homes and businesses and to maintain transmission lines. The power plant operator programs will train students to work in power generation plants and substations.

Both options will be part of ACTC’s Applied Process Technologies department.

Developed in cooperation with American Electric Power through an Appalachian Regional Commission grant, the programs will funnel graduates into positions with AEP, said ACTC President Gregory D. Adkins. “These are real jobs,” Adkins said.

The grant funds development of similar programs at West Virginia State Community College and Zane State College in Zanesville, Ohio, he said.

AEP has long had an internal school to train linemen, said Kentucky Power President Tim Mosher. By adapting the company training to community college standards, AEP can attract potential workers from the communities it serves, Mosher said.

“(The three colleges) can fine-tune it to the local community level. The beauty of it is it’s a product they can present immediately,” he said.

AEP plans to hire graduates to install and repair electrical service to customers and to operate the machinery in its plants, Mosher said.

“It’s technically demanding, which is why it’s so important to adapt it to the community and technical college system,” he said. “An awful lot of the work requires the math and physics taught at the community and technical college level.”

Mosher said he expects numerous job openings in the next few years because of retirements.

“There’s a great market for it,” he said.

ACTC will offer the classes initially at its campus on Roberts Drive in Summit. The classes will eventually move to EastPark when the APT program moves to that campus.

The classes fit well with the APT program, said Doug Vanover, division chairman for manufacturing, transportation and industrial technologies.

While the program originally was designed to train operators for Ashland Inc.’s refinery operations, it will adapt to other industries, Vanover said.

“While no two industries are the same, there are a lot of the same functions going on,” he said.

“The first year of training would include a lot of the same things needed in any industry.”

ACTC is currently taking applications for the classes, which will start in January, said college spokesman John McGlone.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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