Verdugo students get 'smart'

Eleven men on Thursday celebrated the completion of a 96-hour-long certification course on “smart meters” at the Verdugo Jobs Center — the first of its kind in Glendale.

Under the instruction of Professor Alan Sanga, who has an electrical engineering background and teaches at Glendale Community College, the class learned all things smart meter — which provide utilities with real-time data on customer energy use — along with electricity basics and alternative electricity sources.

The graduation comes as Glendale and Burbank convert to smart grids.

“We also studied the importance of windmills and solar panels,” Sanga said. “It’s very important nowadays that we resort to electricity generation, that we have clean air and reduce use of fuel, oil and coal.”

The smart meters digitally track energy consumption. Utility companies can send a text message to notify residents to turn off a unit or two if consumption is too high during peak consumption times, usually during hot summer evenings.

The Verudgo Jobs Center received a $250,000 grant to offer instruction to at least 30 people. The center applied for the grant upon learning the Glendale and Burbank utilities each received $20-million grants from the U.S. Department of Energy to implement their smart grids, said Don Nakamoto, a labor market specialist for the Verdugo Workforce Investment Board.

Two days before Thursday’s graduation, student Malcolm Hawkins-Thomas said he received a job with the Utility Partners of America, allowing him to end his year-long job search and move out of Glendale’s Salvation Army.

“It’s just a blessing,” he said.

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