The clean energy economy is in full swing in Imperial County where renewable projects are not only putting local residents to work in the highest unemployment County in California, they are opening doors to new career opportunities in a community that has been hit hard by the Great Recession and struggled to sustain a local, skilled construction workforce.
In 2009, the members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 569 and their industry partners at the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) started to gear up for green jobs with the Grand Opening of the Imperial Electrical Training Center. This is the only state-certified electrical apprenticeship facility in Imperial County preparing local residents to construct renewable energy projects.
Not long after, Governor Brown signed the 33% Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring California utilities to supply a third of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. And with an added boost from President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, renewable project proposals flooded into Imperial County.
Now, thanks to the clean energy boom in the region, IBEW Local 569 and the San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter of NECA just announced they will invest an additional $300,000 in the Imperial County Electrical Training Center in 2013 to expand skilled training, hire staff and continue to ensure local residents are first-in-line to build clean energy projects. This raises IBEW Local 569 and NECA’s overall private capital investment in Imperial County to over $1.3 million.
IBEW Local 569 Business Manager Johnny Simpson commented:
From day one, IBEW Local 569’s priority has been to make sure renewable projects are putting Imperial County residents to work first. Thanks to local hire agreements, hundreds of state-certified electricians, apprentices and trainees from all parts of the County are employed even as we speak building clean energy projects. Now, our members are investing new funds to expand our training, grow the local, skilled workforce and continue to ensure local people are getting these jobs.
Andrew Berg, executive director of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Chapter of NECA, remarked:
Imperial County is a clear example of a green economy success story. By expanding our training investments in the County, not only are we opening new career doors for local residents, we are expanding the local pool of skilled electrical labor which is a win-win for the community, renewable developers and our industry.