James Madison University

Workforce Training

Small Wind Installer Training

The CWE will offer training to those who would like to learn to install small wind turbines as a profession. We will offer the North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals (NABCEP) entry level exam as part of the Energy Concentration through ISAT as well as to those outside the university through the Office of Outreach and Engagement. Extended learning modules were created to build on the entry level exam and give participants the opportunity for hands-on learning in seven areas of small wind turbine installation. The courses offered enable current turbine installers, and those interested in joining the field, to learn more about how to safely install small wind turbines.

If you are an installer or would like to install small wind systems and are interested in participating in this training program, please contact us.

Entry Level Exam

The North American Board of Certified Energy Professionals (NABCEP) has developed a Small Wind Entry Level Exam that may be offered to students who complete programs based on the Learning Objectives through a Registered Entry Level Exam Provider.

The CWE at JMU plans to be a registered exam provider when the exam becomes available at the end of 2013.

Achieving a passing score on the NABCEP Small Wind Entry Level Exam will indicate that the candidate has demonstrated basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application, installation, design and operation of small wind energy systems in North America.

Extended Learning Modules

A series of seven modules on topics related to small wind installations was created by the Center for Wind Energy at James Madison University and Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc. (SED). After completion of all seven modules of the curriculum, the installer will have all the necessary skills to properly and safely install a small wind turbine.

  1. Technical Sales
    This module will address the concepts involved in customer qualifications/evaluations, power performance estimates, capital costing, site assessment and selection, financial analysis of projects, and contracting.
  2. Technology Selection
    This module will address basic wind turbine mechanics, physics of wind energy generation, VAWT vs. HAWT, an industry overview, an overview of the certification process and bodies, system sizing, case studies, the importance of manufacturer-installer relationships, warranties, and installer support.
  3. Permitting
    This module will address how to defend quality projects in the public sphere, FAQs and common misconceptions, model zoning bylaws, timeline and budget expectations, as well as local, state and federal issues or processes.
  4. System Design
    This module will address interconnection/electrical design including load matching, wire sizing, standardized interconnection rules and processes as well as case studies of working with and against utilities. It will also address mechanical and civil engineering tasks such as site plans and environmental issues, common types of foundations, geotechnical assessments, and construction control/inspections.
  5. Construction Logistics & Planning
    This module will address site and climbing safety, transport and site access, preparations and site layout, lifting techniques and processes, and managing subcontractors. This module will be very heavy on case studies and stories to illustrate problem solving and experiences.
  6. Operations & Maintenance
    This module will address commissioning, manufacturer relationships and warranties, spare parts, scheduled vs. unscheduled maintenance, costs, budgets, contracts, monitoring and performance assessments, case studies and integrating field work, hands-on field work, diagnostics, trouble shooting and inspections, common problems and repairs, blade repair/replacement, resources, and minimizing life cycle costs (role of the system owner).
  7. Business Planning
    This module will address the importance and common sources of revenues and expenses involved in running an installation business, state and federal policy, stakeholders, and an understanding and vision of the entire project development process. This module will be taught in coordination with the Virginia Small Business Development Center at JMU.

These modules can be taken individually for supplemental education or as a full series for a small wind installer certificate.


Instructors for the Small Wind Installer Training will include JMU faculty and staff from Sustainable Energy Developments, Inc. (SED), a reputable wind installer located in Rochester, NY. More information about specific instructors will be available as the curriculum is finalized.


In June 2010 the Commonwealth awarded $800,000 to JMU to develop a Small Wind Training and Testing Facility (SWTTF). This facility is now open and will provide a platform for training on siting, safety, installation, and operations in a live and realistic outdoor environment. The facility is equipped with the following:

  • Rohn 120-ft lattice tower topped with Bergey XLR 7.5 kW turbine
  • System hybridized with 750W of solar PV
  • Interior and exterior lighting is high-efficiency LED
  • RE systems can operate in either grid-tied or stand-alone (coupled with battery bank) manner
  • 16 6-V deep cycle batteries)
  • SkyStream 3.7 on a 45-ft tilt-up tower (with gin pole for raising with a winch) COMING SOON
  • SkyStream 3.7 on a 70-ft tilt-up tower (powered by hydraulic lift) COMING SOON
  • Electric-Vehicle charging station COMING SOON

The SWTTF is also equipped with a robust suite of measuring/monitoring equipment including:

  • Suite of six anemometers, four wind vanes, and two 3-D sonic sensors installed at three elevations coupled to data acquisition
  • WeatherBug Professional system
  • All systems are web-interfaced

How to Register

No courses are being offered at this time as the curricula are still under development.


Costs for the entry level exam and the extended learning modules have not been determined.

Solar Installer Training

NABCEP also offers entry level exams for Solar PV and Solar Heating. You can learn more about the Learning Objectives here. In addition, NABCEP offers many additional courses for becoming certified in PV Technical Sales, PV Installation, and Solar Heating.

The CWE at JMU is in the development phases of becoming a registered exam provider and registered certification provider for solar. As mentioned above, the Small Wind Training and Testing Facility (SWTTF) on the JMU campus is equipped with a small ground-mounted solar installation consisting of 15 50-Watt panels (total 750-Watts). JMU also has a larger solar installation (10-kW – 225 50-Watt panels). In addition, CWE would like to install a mock-rooftop for solar installation training in the future.

Community College Partners

There are many community colleges around the Commonwealth that also offer wind and solar workforce training. View a list of these community colleges and the courses that they offer.