July 2019
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Also In This Issue Canada's Choice
Working Families Must Be Heard in Fall Election read_more

'It Matters'
IBEW Leaders Push Voter Registration in U.S. read_more

Save Your Pension
Congress Needs to
Hear From You read_more

North of 49°
Ottawa-Area Members
Pitch in for Flood Victims read_more

Au nord du 49° parallèle
Les membres dans la région d'Ottawa viennent en aide aux victimes des inondations read_more






Change of Address



Cover Photo

The North American electrical grid is the largest machine ever built by human hands. The interconnecting web of power plants, end users and everything in between has an unknowable number of components that fuel the $20 trillion U.S. economy.

It has one great flaw in its design though: every electron set in motion, whether by coal, gas, nuclear fission, a photon or a gust of wind, has to be used immediately or it is lost.

Everyone involved in building and maintaining the grid knew this was a problem. Billions have been spent researching efficient ways to store power. A handful of pilot programs were built each year, but grid-scale storage was stuck, waiting for policies and technology that hadn't arrived — until now.

Across the country, but primarily along the West Coast in the Ninth District, grid-scale storage projects — free-standing or attached to renewable power generation — are being built and going on-line: not planned; not promised; but built, and at record rates.

Last year, 311 megawatts were installed according to energy research firm Wood Mackenzie. That total is expected to double in 2019, triple in 2020 and triple again in 2023 — totaling more than seven gigawatts of storage.

"We are in a unique moment in time. Technology is changing at lightning speed," said Micah Mitrosky, environmental organizer at San Diego Local 569. "The IBEW has endured for 100 years because we stayed ahead of the industry. We are the best positioned union in the U.S. to do this work. This is our moment to define the future."

Most of the projects completed so far are in California, but substantial projects have been built in Hawaii, Texas, Illinois and West Virginia. State after state is passing storage requirements each year as public utility commissions prepare for a future with dramatically lower carbon emissions.

Two years ago, the largest storage projects in the country were twin 31.5 MW projects in Rupert, W. Va., built by members of Charleston Local 466, and Grand Ridge, Ill., built by members of Champaign-Urbana Local 601 and Elgin Local 117.

Next year, members of Castroville, Calif., Local 234 will break ground on a 300 MW super battery with enough power to replace several natural gas peaker plants. The project is twice as large as all the grid-scale batteries installed in 2016.

California alone has contracts for nearly 1 GW of batteries as it moves to fulfill the promise of a new law. Senate Bill 100 requires the state — the fifth-largest economy in the world — to source 60% of its energy carbon-free by 2030 and 100% by 2045. Gov. Jerry Brown went even further before leaving office in January, issuing an executive order to decarbonize the entire state economy by 2050. read_more

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Officers Column Stephenson:
Leading on Energy read_more
Working Safe in
Summer Heat read_more

TransitionsBruce Burton;
Louie Spencer;
Brian Threadgold;
Bill Neiles read_more

PoliticsPro-Union PRO Act Accelerates Congressional Fight for Workers' Rights;
Social Security Workers
Fight Anti-Union Attacks read_more

Circuits$200M Agreement
Brings Jobs, Stability in Pennsylvania;
Grain Belt Express on
Track After Missouri Senate Declines to Take Action;
'Rite' Strategy Leads
to Steady Work for
New Jersey Local read_more

Spotlight On SafetyTemps Heat Up With No Federal Safety Standard read_more

LettersA Wish for Women;
A Family Affair;
Praise for Action Builder;
Retirement Scam;
Job Well Done read_more

April 2019 read_more
May 2019 read_more

Who We AreThe Electrician at the
End of the Earth:
An Antarctic Adventure read_more