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New College Certificate Program Aimed At Retraining Coal Plant Workers

FILE PHOTO: Seth Tackett

A new program at Indiana State University aims to retrain coal plant workers in electric transmission and distribution. ISU designed the one-year certificate program with the utility Hoosier Energy, whose Merom Generating Station in Sullivan County is set to retire in 2023. 

Electric transmission and distribution is the part of the energy sector that helps power to go where it’s needed — through things like poles and wires.

Chris Blunk is the vice president for corporate services for Hoosier Energy. He said these jobs will be in high demand as more renewable energy and smaller-scale sources of power come on-line.

“I think this is a good model, in terms of what it can look like to help your employees be successful when a decision like that is made," Blunk said.

Hoosier Energy will pay the cost of tuition for its employees. Blunk said about 30 percent of workers at the Merom plant have signed up for the program so far. It’ll consist of six online courses and a hands-on lab.

“Not all employees can pursue a bachelor's degree and can go back to school for four years. So this certificate in one year is going to create many, many opportunities for these people," said Nesli Alp, dean of ISU's College of Technology.

Blunk said some workers may require additional training to be placed in these jobs. You don’t have to be a Merom employee to apply.

Contact Rebecca at or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.