Ramping up Energy Efficiency Training in Connecticut
Ramping up energy efficiency training in Connecticut can address climate and create a pathway for job seekers.
Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to reduce the threat of climate change caused by our reliance on fossil fuels. It is the safest and cheapest clean energy solution we have, and should be the first step in any clean energy strategy. By conserving energy through energy efficiency measures like LED light bulbs, weatherization, insulation, and more, customers save money on energy bills and are more comfortable in their homes on the hottest days of summer and coldest days of winter, and during outages caused by extreme weather.
Energy efficiency also creates jobs; in fact energy efficiency is the largest energy sector in Connecticut. Although the energy efficiency workforce saw severe contraction in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it still numbers over 30,000 workers in our state. Currently, Connecticut’s energy efficiency program has at least a 3 months-long backlog and energy efficiency businesses are facing a critical shortage of skilled workers to meet the demand for these services. Sierra Club Connecticut joined with allies to call for the creation of a comprehensive statewide energy efficiency workforce development program that will help us meet our state’s climate goals, prepare for federal energy efficiency funds, and scale Connecticut’s mission to weatherize, remediate, and improve the health and safety of homes in our state.
A local, minority-owned nonprofit, Efficiency For All, has stepped up to address the workforce shortage and developed a successful training program. Efficiency For All is a nonprofit advocating for the stabilization and expansion of local and national Energy Efficiency and renewable programs which protect human health and the environment, provide local jobs, increase positive economic outcomes, and reduce short term and long term energy costs. Leticia Colon de Mejias, Chair at Efficiency For All, is widely recognized as the leading voice for energy efficiency in Connecticut.
Efficiency for All partnered with the Office of Workforce Strategy and Capital Workforce Partners to invite people who are unemployed or underemployed to a 12 week, fast-track trip to a growing career in energy efficiency to bridge this gap. The twelve week curriculum provides 6 weeks of study including essential workplace skills, prosperity planning skills, career planning, and technical training to prepare students to sit for certificate exams. These certificates are required to work in the Energize CT program and are required at the national level as well. It also included 6 weeks of paid work experience with a local contractor in the EnergizeCT program.
National and state partners celebrated the achievement of ten successful participants in early September. The ten graduates are all employed by contractors here in Connecticut, and if you schedule an energy efficiency audit, maybe you will get a chance to meet one of them!
Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.