The potential growth in solar energy production made clear to IBEW Local 568 the steps up in building sustainable energy systems will come with steps up in the number of green jobs in the energy workforce. Jobs that take the know how only trained workers have.
Adding union workers to the solar projects like solar farm panel building work done for SDG&E in Borrego Springs that will become custom in California prevents a breakdown in the union ranks. Mica Mitroski, an environmental organizer at the IBEW local, helps line up the work that puts union workers to work building renewable energy systems in the Imperial County that produce energy in a "more clean, healthy, and sustainable way."
Renewable energy is not a challenge to the union's workforce. Local hire agreements keep local Imperial County workers on the job and the wages good.
IBEW is counting on policies that make investment in green jobs work easier. AB 32 sets a Renewable Electricity Standard for California that SDG&E has, again an again, done its part to meet.
Enough work has been done since 2006 to produce enough renewable energy to match the energy it takes to make 26 million cups of coffee. But, the end of building work is not in sight.
Trained workers will have opportunities to change their own living circumstances. Getting a green job contract can solidify plans to have a high quality of life living in a middle class community.
Union leaders know the work is not guaranteed. The work takes skills, and certification. Recently, the union increased an investment made to spread the wealth made in the renewable energy field and get more locals in Imperial County in middle class career jobs. The investment in the Imperial Electrical Training Center that runs a state certified apprenticeship program is now over a million. Training is undergoing expansion.
Putting in all the wring connected to the solar panel poles will take time. To meet the production level the law demands, the utility company investments made in increasing the panels count will have to continue to grow.
Tax credits ease the funding burden that can hold back clean energy construction. SDG&E can give more union wiring electricians work using federal tax credits first set up by the Recovery Act, and recently extended, to lower the cost of setting up energy production. They can save down the production path, after kilowatt hours are real numbers, by taking a credit on the produced hours, or save early by taking a project credit for solar installations or building the electric grid.
IBEW 568 also does legislative work on the federal legislation, and state bills that make contributions to building profitable, to stop renewable energy investment incentives from becoming lesser in California. Thus far, the incentive have fallen into place. The union's green jobs are backed by a bulk of capital investment dollars.
The line continues next week.
To read earlier articles in Citizen Agenda Action Line on Tuesdays, read
A bigger solar energy mandate
Always in the running, non-stop
The well made colored rock
Fresh starts on a downtown block
Hard at tapping out an opera scene