BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — A global renewable energy company opened its first U.S. wind and solar technician training facility in Bloomington Thursday.

EDP Renewables already has a strong presence in Illinois. The company has invested $2.5 billion into seven wind farms that supply energy to more than 400,000 homes.

EDP Renewables CEO Sandhya Ganapathy said choosing Central Illinois as the location for their first training facility was a no-brainer.

“We have been here for the last 15 years,” Ganapathy said. “So when we were thinking about where exactly we want to install and have this facility, we couldn’t think of a better place.”

The facility will train 100 workers each year in small classes of 10, who will then work directly for EDP Renewables. Students will get hands-on training, including scaling ladders and mock rescues.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Illinois is leading the country in the renewable energy section, but there aren’t enough skilled workers.

“I think this is exactly what we need,” Durbin said. “We need to make sure we have technicians who are up to the task, trained to do their job safely and effectively…I have no question the job demand in this field is going to grow geometrically. It’s going to grow dramatically over the years to come.”

Durbin said the future of renewable energy in Illinois looks bright, optimistic and positive.

“It just tells me anybody who wrote off the Midwest years ago and said it’s the Rust Belt, it’s yesterday newspaper, well they were just plain wrong…This is really the cutting edge in clean energy,” he said.

Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe called the facility a “gift to future generations.”

“This training center will bridge the gap between aspiration and achievement…It will serve as a launchpad of knowledge that bright individuals can learn, experiment, and innovate,” he said.

Ganapathy said EDP Renewables has invested $17 billion dollars across the United States. The company will invest another $11 billion during the next three years.