World Wind and Solar Central, a renewable energy service provider, will soon locate in Pratt.

Pratt's newest downtown business is part of the growing renewable energy industry.

World Wind and Solar Central, an independent service provider for renewable energy, will soon open a branch office in Pratt. The Pratt office will be at 117.5 West Fourth Street, said Susan Scholer, office manager and marketing specialist. An exact date has not been set but it should be in late May or June.

While the company deals with wind and solar power, the Pratt branch will be a wind energy facility.

World Wind and Solar Central is familiar with the area. They have worked two years with General Electric at the Flat Ridge Wind Farm in Barber County where they do maintenance on the equipment.

The Pratt office will have three people including a branch manager, an operations manager and an administrative assistant, said Joe Candelaria, wind division manager. In addition to the office staff, the company will have a number of technicians in the field. They are hiring now and have postings on Facebook.

Daryl Ragsdale, director of business development, said their policy is to hire local or hire outside and have them relocate to Pratt. He said their goal is 25 to 35 technicians with 75 percent of the workforce to be local.

Besides working locally, World Wind and Solar Central is also hiring technicians to be part of a traveling team that works coast to coast.

World Wind and Solar Central has teams all over the country working on opening branch offices where wind and solar projects are located. With the recent wind farm construction in the Pratt area, it meets the company goals.

They can meet the clients needs because they are local and provide local technicians. Since the technicians are local, they become part of the community and help the local economy.

World Wind and Solar Central has a technical program where they teach the electrical, mechanical, hydraulic and safety program to work in the field. Locals would be flown to California, where the company originated, for hands-on training. The company partners with actual equipment manufacturers and sends the techs to them for additional training. Once that training is complete, they would be brought back to Kansas where they would shadow current workers before taking on their new jobs.

"We have a very comprehensive training program," Ragsdale said.

One reason they selected Pratt is that Pratt Community College has strong established technical programs. They are looking for dedicated young people with a strong work ethic and students in technical programs are exactly the kind of people they want for their training program, Ragsdale said.

They seek out students after they graduate and get them in their training program where the philosophy is to hire and train and retain them in the wind energy tech area.

The technicians will be trained in wind energy but they will also be given a chance to train for the company solar team as well.

World Wind and Solar Central was originated in Tehachapi, Calif. 10 years ago and supplies man power for utility grade wind farms. They provide the labor force for operation and maintenance of wind and solar farms. On the wind side, they also do construction, quality assurance and quality control, Scholer said.

On the operations side, they do scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. They also work on substations and end of warranty inspections. The company does a lot of analysis and most of the work is operations and maintenance.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the wind industry is number one for job growth projected from 2014 to 2024. Wind technicians have seen a 108 percent growth in the industry. That growth rate is twice the rate of the second highest in that category, Scholer said.

@GaleR_Tribune