As the energy sector begins to move away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy sources, building trades unions and affiliated contractors will have to invest resources into preparing members to perform this new work.
While much of the work is currently performed by non-union tradesmen and tradeswomen, NXTGEN Clean Energy Solutions Founder Russ Bates believes the industry can be captured by union labor. He discussed the industry and where it is heading on the AWF Union Podcast.
Focusing on clean energy
Bates said clean energy is the way of the future, as infrastructure plans are dedicating resources towards it and companies are making clean energy a priority.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has come on board with clean energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Additionally, they are focusing on electric vehicle charging stations and energy storage for battery power.
As an IBEW member, Bates said it is promising to see the union on-board with the changes.
NXTGEN Clean Energy Solutions
NXTGEN Clean Energy Solutions works to bridge the knowledge gap on clean energy. They teach people about clean energy, its various forms, how to use it and how it can be implemented.
Working with small businesses, the company shows them how they can convert to clean energy and begin providing energy for themselves. Once people see the efficiency of solar energy, they are typically interested.
One of the biggest misconceptions of clean energy is the high cost. A few years ago, it was true that solar panels and other technology had a high upfront cost. However, the price has since come down and Bates said the return on investment is much higher and realized more quickly than in the past.
Increasing the volume of electric vehicle charging stations
The demand on electric vehicles is on the rise, meaning the charging stations need to be more readily available.
Bates said more businesses and homeowners are investing in charging stations. While some gas stations have charging stations, other places are installing them in order to increase the volume of traffic such as malls and parking garages.
It will be important for the IBEW to capture the work of installing these stations, as some Local Unions already have.