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Heinrich, Smith Introduce Clean Energy Jobs Act To Boost Energy Savings, Jobs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) co-chairs of the Electrification Caucus, introduced the Clean Energy Jobs Act to meet the growing energy workforce needs and create a comprehensive strategy at the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide grants to eligible businesses and joint labor-management partnerships to pay for on-the-job training for new and existing employees in renewable energy, energy efficiency, electrification, grid modernization and greenhouse gas emissions reduction sectors.

Energy jobs are some of the fastest growing occupations in America. From 2015 to 2019 the energy sector grew at twice the rate as the overall economy. In the coming years, there will be an increasing demand for trained workers, particularly in renewable energy, energy storage, and electrification. The Clean Energy Jobs Act helps meet this demand while providing good-paying jobs and increasing reliance on domestic manufacturing.

“As more and more families are able to access the cost-saving and health benefits of home electrification, we need a workforce that has the skill sets to get these plans across the finish line. The Clean Energy Jobs Act builds up the workforce to meet the demand, and increases opportunities for women, minorities, and veterans to take hold of these good-paying careers,” said Heinrich, member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Co-Chair of the Electrification Caucus.

“I always say that when it comes to transitioning to a clean energy economy, we can lead or follow—and I think we should lead,” said Sen. Smith, Co-Chair of the Electrification Caucus. “Transitioning to a clean energy economy isn’t just essential to reduce air pollution and combat climate change; it’s a huge economic opportunity for local communities in Minnesota and across the country. This legislation will help ensure we have a diverse and well-trained workforce ready to meet the demand for good-paying clean energy careers.”

The Clean Energy Jobs Act:

  • Directs the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with other federal partners, to carry out a comprehensive program to improve education and training for energy and manufacturing-related jobs.
  • Makes educating and training underrepresented groups, particularly women and minorities, for these fields a national priority.
  • Creates an Energy Workforce Program at the Department of Energy to provide grants to eligible businesses and joint labor-management partnerships to pay for on-the-job training for new and existing employees in renewable energy, energy efficiency, electrification, grid modernization and greenhouse gas emissions reduction sectors. Priority is given to small businesses and labor partnerships recruiting from local communities, minorities, women, foster children, workers transitioning from fossil energy jobs, and veterans.
  • Establishes a resource center for schools, workforce development programs, and industry organizations to guide the development of energy-related training programs.
  • Instructs Department of Energy to collaborate with industry, the Departments of Education, Labor, Commerce, and the National Science Foundation, to develop guidelines on skills development for energy related industries.
  • Establishes a scholarships and education grant program to fill workforce needs through community colleges, vocational schools, and secondary schools.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act is supported by Rewiring America, E4TheFuture, the Building Performance Association, Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA), National Association of Energy Service Companies (NAESCO), National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), Federal Performance Contracting Coalition (FPCC), BlocPower, the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC), and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). 

“For too long, small home performance businesses have faced obstacles accessing federal workforce development dollars. Sen. Heinrich’s Clean Energy Jobs Act gives small energy efficiency and clean energy companies a fair shot by offering direct grants for on-the-job and external training for the energy efficiency and clean energy industries—and prioritizes minorities, women, veterans, and individuals transitioning from fossil energy sector jobs to ensure that these jobs of the future are open and accessible to all. Small businesses know how to do more with less and should have equal access to funding sources to bring on local workers and train them for growing demands. The Building Performance Association and our 20,000+ members and program participants thank Sen. Henrich for commitment to ensuring that small energy efficiency and clean energy businesses are not left behind,” said Steve Skodak, CEO of the Building Performance Association.

“The Clean Energy Jobs Act is a win for small energy efficiency and clean energy businesses. According to E4TheFuture's 2021 Energy Efficiency Jobs in America report, employment in the efficiency industry remains well below pre-pandemic levels, at 2.1 million total jobs. The Energy Workforce Grant Program contained in this legislation will provide direct assistance to businesses to support on-the job and external training of new and existing workers to build a robust, vibrant, and diverse pipeline of clean energy jobs. We applaud Sen. Heinrich for his leadership, and his work to catalyze the growth of the energy efficiency workforce through this bill,” said Steve Cowell, President of E4TheFuture.

“Rewiring America supports Senator Heinrich’s Clean Energy Jobs Act. As part of the generational shift towards electrification, it is critical that our domestic labor capacity remains competitive and continues to evolve to meet the nation's robust clean energy capabilities. According to Rewiring America's latest research, electrification will create over 450,000 local installation jobs that cannot be automated or offshored, in addition to creating 80,000 to 100,000 manufacturing jobs and 800,000 indirect and induced jobs. The Clean Energy Jobs Act will help ensure that we have the trained labor force for these direct electrification jobs. It represents a critical and significant step toward reaching our nation's electrified potential. By engaging small businesses throughout the country, as well as opening the door for the next generation of clean energy workers, it is a meaningful effort to remove the barriers of entry to the economic opportunity the electrification of our households and communities will create. We hope that this investment in our nation's workers is just the beginning, and that leaders in Congress will continue to prioritize America's clean energy capabilities to ensure that we are a global leader in pursuit of electrifying everything,” said Ari Matusiak, Co-Founder and CEO of Rewiring America.

“The need for a trained, diverse workforce to tackle the climate crisis has never been greater, and Sen. Heinrich’s Clean Energy Jobs Act would be an excellent step towards addressing this demand. Under this legislation, small clean energy and building electrification companies would be eligible for critical federal grants to support job training, with priority given to those underrepresented in the clean energy workforce, including women and minority workers. As a small business leader in green workforce development, BlocPower’s Civilian Climate Corps has trained over 1,500 participants in its first year. The time to expand the green workforce to fully decarbonize both our buildings and our entire economy is now, and we thank Sen. Heinrich for his work to bring us closer to that moment,” said Donnel Baird, CEO of BlocPower.