Assistant Editor Kyle Massey’s cover story and his energy column provide a fascinating insight into how two Arkansas-owned companies, ERMCO and Central Moloney, are responding to the nationwide shortage of electrical transformers. It’s a shortage caused by increased demand stemming from an aging power grid and the rise in renewable power projects.
The shortage is so acute that last fall, public power and cooperative utilities sent a letter asking the Department of Energy to prioritize funding to boost domestic production of transformers. “If we don’t act today, we risk being unable to recover from a storm tomorrow,” said the letter from Joy Ditto, president and CEO of the American Public Power Association, and Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
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Meanwhile, Chris Hart, president and CEO of transformer manufacturer Central Moloney, told Massey, “The greatest challenge we’re facing as a company is just finding folks who want to come to work.” He needs skilled workers but stressed that the company will help new employees learn the necessary skills.
Which brings us to this week’s Executive Q&A with Summer DeProw, chancellor of the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College in North Little Rock. “UA-PTC has nearly every academic program that is in need at this time,” she said. “If we don’t have a fully functioning academic program, the Business & Industry Center will create customized training for any business or industry.”
We don’t know whether UA-PTC is addressing the issue of the shortage of workers to manufacture electrical transformers, but it seems that this might provide an opportunity for the school and others in Arkansas. And for the workers they might train.