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Three German firms donate $28,000 worth of equipment, tools to NMCC wind power program

Photo courtesy of NMCC
Photo courtesy of NMCC
Northern Maine Community College wind power technology instructor Wayne Kilcollins (center) explains to people gathered at the Maine Wind Industry Pavillion at the American Wind Energy Association WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim, California how the $28,000 worth of tool and equipment donations from three German companies will benefit students in his program on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. The announcement of the gifts was made during an afternoon reception at the AWEA conference. Among those participating in the event were Paul Williamson (left) of the Maine Wind Industry Initiative and representatives from the three German companies donating to NMCC.
By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A first of its kind program in New England centered on wind power technology has attracted the attention, and some donations, from three international companies.

Officials with Northern Maine Community College announced Thursday that three German companies have donated $28,000 worth of tools and equipment to the college’s wind power technology program.

News of the contribution came on May 24 at the American Wind Energy Association WINDPOWER Conference and Exhibition in Anaheim, Calif.

Wayne Kilcollins, who is the wind power technology instructor at NMCC, is attending the four-day conference along with other delegates from Maine involved in the state’s wind industry. The announcement was made during an afternoon reception at the Maine Wind Industry Pavilion at the AWEA conference. The equipment donated will be shipped to the NMCC campus in coming weeks.

The largest of the donations came from Wagner GmbH & Co.KG, a family owned precision tool manufacturer based in Much, Germany. The company, which has developed and manufactured innovative torque and tension systems which are being sold worldwide under the trade name ‘Plarad,’ will contribute more than $25,600 in power bolting equipment.

The donation includes a set of precision bolting tools so that students can learn handling of such equipment, including safety training. The tools, which include a hydraulic torque wrench, ratchet head, drive unit and accompanying hydraulic power pack, are used to tighten bolts that hold sections of tower and turbine drive components together, and to attach the blades to the hub assembly as well as the nacelle to the tower.

PSA Sicherheitstechnik GmbH of Solingen, Germany, is donating a set of climbing safety gear for turbine technicians which includes a full body harness, double lanyard and work positioning rope, valued at $370. PSA is a manufacturer of such equipment and also provides safety training as well as certification courses for workers engaged in high altitude activity, such as on wind turbines. The company was founded in 1990 and has its own training facility at its head office in Solingen.

Another industry partner contributing to NMCC is August Friedberg GmbH of Gelsenkirchen, Germany and its U.S. subsidiary, August Friedberg Americas Inc. The company was founded more than 125 years ago, supplying bolts for the local coal mining industry. Today Friedberg is also well-established and widely known as one of the leading manufacturers of bolting systems for the wind industry.

Friedberg will provide the NMCC wind power technology program with $2,000 worth of bolts and threaded rods.

Officials from each company expressed excitement about the donation and about forging an ongoing partnership with the Presque Isle college.

College officials said three German corporations are major suppliers to the international wind industry and are also actively engaged in growing their North American business.

Kilcollins said the donations demonstrate both the excellent reputation the NMCC program has developed in the two years since it was first introduced and the growth nationally of the wind industry.

“This is wonderful news and a huge boon to our program,” he said. “To have our efforts recognized by three leading international companies in the wind industry speaks volumes to the work that is happening at Northern Maine Community College and across Maine in terms of development of wind projects.”

The college launched the wind power technology program, the first of its kind in New England, in 2008. Students in the program learn to operate, maintain and repair wind turbine generators. The program quickly became popular and helped to boost enrollment at the college.

This is not the first time the program has attracted the attention of donors. Just last month, NMCC officially dedicated the Northern Maine Center for Excellence in Alternative Energy Training and Education. The facility was made possible thanks to a $1.2 million donation from California resident and Presque Isle native Mary Smith, who bestowed the gift in honor of her late husband.

Several local firms, including Maine Public Service Co., also have donated to the program, which graduated its first class of technicians last weekend.

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