As a Mature and Growing Industry, Clean Energy Must Work to Benefit Workers, Communities, and Those Historically Left Behind

The United States is in an unprecedented transformation toward a clean energy future. This transformation represents an unparalleled opportunity to create a better future for everyone, built on affordable clean energy and economic growth. But we also know that any transformation of this level can pose significant social consequences – especially for communities that have been home to carbon-intensive industries, or that historically have been left behind. 

During day three of American Clean Power Week, we spotlight the incredible efforts by the clean energy industry and American Clean Power’s (ACP) member companies to ensure an equitable Energy Transition for All. 

Energy Transition For All

Clean energy is no longer a “startup” industry – it is here, and the country is watching. Even before the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which is expected to triple annual clean power deployment by 2030, our industry has experienced historic growth and clean power is a fixture of the modern energy system. Today, wind and solar energy represent roughly 14% of electricity generation in the U.S. This is complimented by the growth in energy storage, with 2021 marking the first multi-gigawatt year on record for the technology. Wind and solar are projected to provide around 40% of America’s electricity by 2030.

As clean energy continues to grow and we enter the industry’s next phase of incumbency, it is essential that as leaders we actively pursue initiatives that honor our social compact with the country. America’s clean energy transformation represents an unparalleled opportunity to create a better future for everyone – and our industry must proactively play our role to support this opportunity.  

That is why the American Clean Power Association has created Energy Transition for All (ET4All) – an initiative outlining a series of industry-wide programs that provide a framework for us all to: 

  • Expand opportunities for workers – including building a pipeline of talent, empowering our workforce, and providing assistance to transitioning fossil fuel workers 
  • Create value for communities, including those historically left behind 
  • Lead efforts to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion within our industry 

The clean energy industry and ACP’s members have created a broad range of programs that are driving impact across ET4All’s pillars to expand opportunity for transitioning fossil fuel workers, create value for communities, and lead in diversity and inclusion.

The clean energy industry is poised to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States over the next 10 years. The clean power sector is working to ensure that workers from communities that have been the most impacted by the move away from coal or those that have been historically underserved have accessible pathways to take advantage of this important engine of economic opportunity. For example, Clearway Energy’s West Virginia Pilot Apprenticeship Program provides $20,000 to cover education costs for former coal workers or their family members to get trained as wind technicians. Another American Clean Power member, Enel Green Power, has a workforce training program with Texas State Technical College (TSTC) and Innovation Partnership with AdeptID to focus on workforce retraining programs for oil and gas workers and machine learning analytics for inclusive job mobility. 

American workers, and particularly our nations’ veterans looking to transition from active duty into civilian life, will benefit greatly from increased investment and deployment of solar, wind, and energy storage across America. The U.S. clean power industry is proud to employ veterans in the wind and solar sectors at a rate 50% and 33% higher than the national average, respectively. Clean energy companies recognize that veterans have transferable skills that are highly applicable to clean energy jobs. For example, AEP has developed targeted recruiting policies for veterans focused on partnering and establishing direct relationships with key military and veteran groups.

Underserved communities are disproportionately impacted by the consequences of environmental degradation and the public health issues resulting from nearby fossil fuel plants. To ensure the growing clean power industry is representative of the communities it works in, ACP’s member companies have instituted a broad range of programs to increase participation of diverse and underrepresented populations. For example, since 2019, Dominion Energy has held an annual Careers in Energy Diversity Student Conference, bringing hundreds of women and minority students from across the country to introduce them to and educate them about career options within the energy industry. Students interview and compete for paid summer internships, many of which ultimately lead to full-time job offers upon graduation.

To further support this effort and the important work ahead, ACP has launched a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) Committee. This forum will use the collective talent and coordinating efforts of our member companies to attract and retain diverse talent in the industry.

Further Efforts to Advance the Energy Transition for All

We also advanced the ET4All initiative at CLEANPOWER 2022 Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas this past May by celebrating and recognizing industry efforts with the release of two new awards: the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, recognizing the commitment and efforts of an ACP member company leading in DE&I; and the Breakout Woman+ of the Year Award, celebrating the accomplishments of women in the industry over the past year. These awards were presented during ACP’s inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Luncheon, where attendees were able to further network with industry peers and helped to raise over $5,000 for Project Quest, a San Antonio-based workforce development nonprofit. 

During the luncheon, I presented the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award to American Electric Power (AEP), recognizing them for their commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment that supports development and advancement for all and for the goals and targets included in their DE&I Strategic Roadmap to 2025 initiative. 

The Breakout Woman+ of the Year Award was presented to both Rebecca Glazer, Senior Director of Growth Initiatives at AES Clean Energy, and to Kathy Presperin, Chief Supply Officer at the Blattner Company. Rebecca’s successes at AES and beyond include bringing year-round renewable energy projects online for Google, with the commitment that 90% of those hours would be supplied by a fleet of clean energy assets, and leading the evaluation of AES Clean Energy investments, where her analyses support industry-changing products and volumes. Kathy was recognized for her leadership in supply chain planning, procurement, and strategy at Blattner, where she created a foundation that allowed Blattner to continue to build projects through an unprecedented global supply chain crisis and led throughout the crisis with a positive energy that elevated her as a role model for others. 

I encourage everyone to visit ACP’s website to read more about our industry’s Energy Transition for All initiative. The American Clean Power Association launched with a bold mandate – to unite the industry and steer the most important and meaningful conversations for our sector. Throughout American Clean Power Week, and with the Energy Transition for All initiative, we are highlighting the important steps the industry is taking toward achieving that vision. 

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