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Clean energy grant helping SRC retrain former coal plant workers

Spoon River College
courtesy photo

Funding through a state program will help Spoon River College continue retraining workers from two shuttered coal-fired power plants in west central Illinois.

The Duck Creek power plant south of Canton and the Havana power plant each closed four years ago.

Both are within the Spoon River College district, so the school applied for and received a grant from the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

SRC President Curt Oldfield said the grant is designed to prepare the workforce of the future.

The college is getting $474,000, and more than half of that -- $276,494 – will be used to buy diesel engines for its Diesel Tractor Technology program.

“It’s the lowest-emission diesel engine that we’re training on now to prepare them to move into the workforce because there are so many of these engines that are out being utilized today that the mechanics are needed to repair those engines,” Oldfield said.

The diesel engine program is well-known, according to Oldfield, who said it attracts students from all over the state of Illinois, and has one student right now from Oklahoma.

“This program has been offered since 1965, so we have great alums who are out in our communities (and) working in this world,” he said.

Oldfield said students trained in the program have gone on to work on diesel engines on ships, trains, trucks, and farm equipment. He said they’re trained to go into any sector of the diesel engine repair world.

Oldfield said the remainder of the grant funding will be used for other tech programs and truck driver training programs.

“All programs that were utilized by the workers who were impacted by the closings of these power plants,” he said.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.