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IBEW Green-Job Training Facilities Around the Country Open Their Doors to Public

June 8, 2009

With renewable energy looking to be the wave of the future, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is letting everyone know that its members are the best-trained green-work force around.

Denver Local 68 President Ed Knox, right, and Local 68
Business Manager Dennis Whalen help dedicate a new photovoltaic array at Denver Local 68’s training center.

During the Memorial Day break, local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training centers opened its doors to policy makers and members of the public to learn more about the union’s extensive green job-training programs.

“I hope I saw the future and I believe that I did,” Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman said after touring New Haven Local 90’s training center.

Legislators were in their home districts for Congress’s Memorial Day recess and many eagerly accepted the IBEW’s and the National Electrical Contractors Association’s invitation to tour their local joint apprenticeship training facilities. More than 90 members of Congress attended open house events.

In Warren, Ohio, state and local leaders got a first look at plans for a new solar photovoltaic system and wind turbines to be installed at Local 573’s Electrical Trades Institute, while in Tennessee, Rep. Jim Cooper (D) called Nashville Local 429’s apprenticeship training center and its green-skills program, a “ticket to the future,” after touring its facility.

In San Diego, more than 120 community, local and state leaders visited Local 569’s Electrical Training Center, including representatives from Sen. Barbara Boxer’s and Rep. Susan Davis’s offices. The center focuses on solar power, which allows apprentices to earn professional certification in photovoltaic installation.

Local 569 is also planning to open a new green-training facility in neighboring Imperial County to help staff its rapid-growing solar and wind market. The local’s program was featured in the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper as part of its hot-jobs list for new college grads.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) dedicated a new photovoltaic display at Denver Local 68’s training center. Perlmutter told guests that renewable energy will “rebuild the country and the middle class.”

The 18-kilowatt panel was originally displayed at last year’s Democratic National Convention in Denver. The local plans to add wind turbines to the facility soon.

More than 200 apprentices from Richmond, Va., Local 666 are learning specialized skills in solar and wind that could become one of the fastest growing job-sectors in central Virginia. “We’re the best kept secret in the industry,” Business Manager Jim Underwood told WWBT-TV during the local’s open house.

Portland, Ore., Local 48’s training center, which has trained more than 1,000 members in solar installation, recently started offering the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners’ solar certificate program. The program allows individuals looking to get into the solar field a way to show they have achieved basic knowledge comprehension of key terms and concepts of photovoltaic operations.

New opportunities are opening up in the renewable energy sector as millions of federal stimulus dollars are made available for training and investment in the new energy economy. But the expected rapid growth of green jobs – covering everything from retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency to installing and wiring solar panels and wind turbines – means the our economy will require thousands of trained electricians who can safely and professionally carry out the work.

It’s a demand that is already being met by the IBEW. “Renewable energy is not the wave of the future, it’s already here,” said Honolulu Local 1186 Business Manager Damien Kim. “Our members and apprentices will be going into the workplace with skills that are expected of them as we move toward a new energy economy.” Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) toured Local 1186’s facility which features training in photovoltaics, wind turbines and automated building operations.

“The IBEW has the curriculum, facilities and instructors needed to lead the new energy revolution and we’ve been doing it for nearly a decade,” said International President Edwin D. Hill. “And we make sure that green-collar workers and their families get a decent wage and benefits so they can take their place in the middle class.”

More than 70 IBEW training centers offer training in renewable energy, with more and more facilities incorporating green power into their curriculum.   

Check out the media coverage of green-job open houses across the country:

Richmond, Va.: Training for “Green Jobs of the Future”

Meriden, Conn.: Training for Green Jobs in Wallingford

Nashville, Tenn.: Training Center to Offer Green Curriculum to Electricians

San Diego: IBEW Hosts Open House, Showcases Green Training Program

                    Hot-Jobs List Could Point the Way For College Grads

Toledo, Ohio: IBEW Union is Going Green

Warren, Ohio: Green Energy Work and Training in the Valley

Denver: Representative Perlmutter Dedicates New Solar Array in North Denver

Wichita, Kan.: Green Electrical Jobs

Evansville, Ind.: Electricians Learning to Go Green

Honolulu: Local Electricians Plug Into Green Jobs

We will be adding more media links as they become available.  Please see the IBEW’s new Green Jobs Web page for updates:

IBEW Journal - Winter 2009