Wheeling, dealing toward LI’s energy future

Direct hit: Dynamic Supplier Alignment thinks so, partnering with Eastern Suffolk BOCES (and others) to bring production of Direct Coupling to Long Island.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A Selden-based supply-chain specialist and Eastern Suffolk BOCES are plowing innovative pathways toward good jobs in burgeoning alternative-energy fields.

Dynamic Supplier Alignment is teaming with the education cooperative – which provides leadership, instruction, management and other cost-effective shared services to 51 Long Island school districts – to both promote regional alternative-energy initiatives and prepare a workforce to execute them.

With equal attention paid to both startups and sustainability, DSA has a history of dabbling in new technologies while simultaneously creating educational programs that support them. In this case, the business-development firm is championing Direct Coupling, a unique energy-distribution system by Detroit-based Nextek Power Systems, and working with Eastern Suffolk BOCES to prepare a product-savvy workforce.

Corrinne Graham: Vital links on the supply chain.

Corrinne Graham: Vital links on the supply chain.

Corrinne Graham, head of DSA’s research, training and business-development programs, referenced agreements involving DSA, Nextek Power Systems and Bohemia-based Precision Assembly Technologies Inc., a DSA manufacturing partner – with Eastern Suffolk BOCES providing a key educational component that triggers an economic win-win.

First, the tech: Nextek Power Systems has created the Direct Coupling system, an efficient method for connecting direct-current renewable energy directly to LED lights, computers, air conditioners, even electric vehicles. Basically, you can power stuff directly from a private, self-sustaining source –  a “DC microgrid,” for instance, serving a single building, sans power grid.

Next, the deal: Through an agreement with DSA, the Detroit company has agreed to manufacture and market its Direct Coupling system on Long Island. Precision Assembly Technologies will handle production, according to Graham, and anticipates creating “at least 100 jobs” to carry the load.

Enter Eastern Suffolk BOCES, whose partnership with DSA will help create content that familiarizes students with Direct Coupling while also providing “foundational knowledge on emerging trends and an overview of the collaborative vision and goals” it shares with DSA, the cooperative said in a statement.

A pilot curriculum is slated to debut in Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Spring 2017 Adult Education program.

While the new classwork at the Eastern Long Island Academy of Applied Technology will certainly benefit DSA’s partners, it also “complements” the big idea behind the DSA/BOCES collaboration, according to Graham.

“It’s a whole separate initiative that creates a significant job opportunity for Long Island,” she said. “Part of what we’re trying to do at DSA is get the right workforce out there, especially in energy industries.

“There are a number of emerging trends leading to new job opportunities.”

Graham – who holds a PhD in healthcare administration, a master’s degree in global management and undergraduate degrees in business management and accounting – represented DSA at a Sept. 28 meeting at Eastern Suffolk BOCES’ Bellport facility. Attended by Precision Assembly Technologies and a “significant amount” of BOCES directors and faculty, the brainstorming session focused on “how to launch and how to tie the curriculum into different aspects of the BOCES program,” Graham noted.

Paying for the new curriculum is another matter. According to Eastern Suffolk BOCES, the cooperative and DSA “are committed to seeking funding support to assist in developing and implementing methods for recruiting students from diverse backgrounds.”

Graham, who noted the cause has a “lobbyist” in former U.S. Rep. George Hochbrueckner (D-1st Dist., 1987-1995), said the coalition “has not established a dollar amount at this time,” but said DSA and Eastern Suffolk BOCES have several potential funding avenues to explore.

“We’re going to call on the Department of Labor, which has a lot of funding dollars for programs and initiatives like these, in terms of overall workforce development,” Graham told Innovate LI. “We also have business partners we work with that we can call upon.”

One of the initiative’s most promising aspects, according to Graham, is its focus on economically friendly sustainable-energy industries. Direct Coupling, which is specifically designed to directly connect locally generated power to private power supplies, is just one example of new educational content that could send positive ripples through the regional solar- and wind-installation industries.

“Students are leaving (school) and they’re not ready,” Graham said. “We want to help guide them to the next level, whether they’re going to college or exploring what career opportunities are available to pursue.

“We want to get them into position.”