Utility CEO testifies to U.S. House on need to develop diverse clean energy workforce

Actually there was another hearing going on Wednesday in Congress, and it pointed more to the future than the past.

Exelon Utilities CEO Anne Pramaggiore told U.S. House members that the energy industry has an “imperative” to lead workforce development efforts to meet future clean energy needs.

“The energy industry has a business imperative to help lead workforce development efforts in these fast-growing, good-paying fields and to support programs that produce the next generation of workers,” Pramaggiore said during a hearing of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy.

The subcommittee was mulling over the “The Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act of 2019,” introduced by Energy Subcommittee Chairman Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) earlier in the week. Rush’s proposed legislation focuses on clean energy infrastructure and raising the workforce needed to build it.

“As the energy sector changes to address climate change, it’s critically important that we not only invest in clean energy infrastructure, but also a diverse workforce that can build it,” Rush said in a statement.  “We need to make sure that every community has access to the energy sector’s growing opportunities, and that no American’s success is determined by race, economic status or zip code.  It’s important to ensure that our nation’s energy field represents the diversity of America.”

Exelon Corp., which is headquartered in Illinois, has launched several new energy sector workforce and diversity initiatives. One of those is CONSTRUCT, a nine-week job training program in Chicago, while another is helping Delaware State University with its Renewable Energy Education Center.

“As universal service providers with an essential social purpose and with assets situated in virtually every community in the U.S., we are a place-based business that is physically embedded in the places we operate and naturally engaged in economic development, jobs and the civic life of our community,” Pramaggiore added.

Other witnesses scheduled Wednesday included Leticia Colon de Mejias, CEO of Energy Efficiencies Solutions LLC, and Gilbert G. Campbell III, co-founder of Volt Energy.

The winds of political change haven’t stopped the growth of the clean energy economy, which includes about 4 million jobs, according to various reports. Those are the workforces within the solar, wind, hydro and energy efficiency sectors, among others.

A 2018 story by Forbes indicated that the global clean energy workforce totaled more than 10 million people for the first time in history.

 

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