VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY)- Centura College Wind Turbine Technician students toured Dominion Energy’s 2.6-gigawatt wind farm 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach.

The program equips students to maintain and repair wind turbines, a trade that offers opportunities across the country.

“It puts in their hands all the tools they need to go directly to work in the wind energy industry,” said Centura Vice President Joel English. “You’ll see students who are close to graduation who already have jobs lined up.”

Tour presentations cover the mechanical function of the turbines, as well as the project’s ecological impacts. 

Dominion’s plan to install 178 turbines will reportedly harness enough energy to power 660,000 homes and will bring thousands of jobs to Hampton Roads. The project comes with an $8 billion price tag. 

Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander, the program’s chancellor, joined the tour. He told students that there is a crisis in Virginia and nationwide over the lack of skilled trade workers. He said that Virginia has 300,000 unfilled skilled trade jobs, which will be costly to the economy.

“We have to have both academic credentials and workforce credentials in America. Thousands of jobs are going unfilled because we don’t have the skilled trade professionals,” Alexander said.

Jeff Lewis, a student in the program, chose to pursue wind turbine maintenance after working on cellular towers. He says he sees endless opportunities for growth.

“We’re highly sought after and it looks like it’s going to be a promising future making some decent money,” Lewis said.