Monday, February 5, 2023
Super thrilled to be here with so many champions of workforce development in this country—where the rubber meets the road.
So happy to be with a crowd that is always asking: “What's next? What's next? What's next?”
And I have an answer for you, which is: clean energy!
Now, many of you have been doing this already. But for those of you who haven't, clean energy is here now. And it is next. And it's gonna be next for a good while—like maybe the next 25 years.
So, I want everybody to realize that we are at this inflection point right now.
Because we have this opportunity, right now, to not only make significant inroads in addressing the climate crisis, but in doing so, to really rebuild our economy from the bottom up, as the President likes to say, and the middle out. And to give the students who are here and the ones who you serve—give them a great entry into the middle class and above.
The Biden administration wants us all to seize on that opportunity. And it's why, as Ava [Parker] mentioned, the President signed the most significant clean energy laws in our nation's history—potentially, in the planet—because of [the incentives] that have been put into place to attract jobs to America.
It is all about jobs, jobs, jobs—and it's got to be about the workforce, the workforce, the workforce.
We're going to need—just as one example, we're going to need a million new electricians by 2030. That's just electricians. We're going to need operators for new battery factories. We're going to need people who are turbine technicians...folks on EV factory lines...we need energy auditors...we need heat pump installers...we need system operators...we need scientists...we need engineers...and so much more.
And that's why you all have the keys to this future.
So, I have three calls to action for you. One is: first, for those of you who haven't, install clean energy on your campuses!
Right? You’re applauding because you've done it and you saved money, right?
The administrators in the room here know all too well how expensive it is to power your schools. Clean energy is this affordable, sustainable alternative. Solar is the cheapest form of energy right now.
Thanks to this provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, you guys—community colleges, and in fact, nonprofits—get a 30% payback, cash back, on projects. Off the top! You get cash back. 30%! [You’re] tax-free, so it’s not a tax deduction—it is money back, to you, to install clean energy on your campus.
And not only do you save up front, but you keep saving over time and then reaping the benefits of what you’ve installed. So for example, I don't know if you’re here, Mount Hood Community College in Oregon? Where are you?
You guys were ahead of the curve. You installed all of this energy saving equipment years ago and saved—and have been saving—half, more than half, on your electricity bill, which is amazing! Just basic energy efficiency equipment installed.
[Audience member: Wow.]
These kinds of investments obviously allow you to put money in places where you really want to put it. But it doesn't end there. It also makes your campus safer and healthier and resilient. It gives your students the notion: this campus is leaning in. This campus is leading. This could be a place I want to go.
What if you became a net zero campus? That's one point of advertising that you can use to attract students. And not only that, but you can use those students to help install the equipment by developing a training program inside the campus, right? I'm just saying.
The second call to action is really to focus on workforce training programs related to clean energy. I just want to give you this bit of information. You may not know, but the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law so far, since they were signed, have caused 400 factories to either expand or open up in the United States.
Four hundred factories, all across the United States, in every pocket of the country.
Amazing, right? All of these factories are going to need thousands and thousands of workers. And all of the folks who are running those factories are saying to us, “We just got to make sure we have a pipeline of talent.” And the community college is the place where this can happen.
So, for those of you who are doing this already, working directly with them—many of you are, most of you are—working directly with employers, great! But take a look at the ones who are coming in clean energy, and work on developing a workforce training that’s focused on specific employers.
You know, the ones who are offering—there's an incentive to offer apprenticeships, for example, so you can be paid while you learn. There's an incentive for them to work with you, obviously. We want to create industrial clusters, with training as a hugely important component of that.
We just announced—this is one example—seven Hydrogen Hubs all across the country, in seven different regions. They are going to need workers to build electrolyzers for hydrogen. I mean, there's this whole new series of trainings that have to go on with a lot of this new advanced technology. And you are the place where so much of that can happen. We want to make that link strong.
And if you do too, just quickly, DOE has got a couple of specific programs that you might already be aware of. But for those of you who aren't, we have an Energy Auditor Training Grants initiative, which supports programs that teach students how to become energy auditors for commercial and residential buildings.
Our Industrial Assessment Centers, which used to be attached only to universities, they teach students how to conduct energy audits of industrial facilities. Thanks to the President's agenda, we've now expanded that to community colleges. So, for any of you who want to be hosting an Industrial Assessment Center, this is an opportunity now for that.
We have our Career Skills Training Program at DOE, [which] combines on-the-job training through labor organizations with classroom instruction at schools like yours, teaching students to install energy efficient technologies.
And we also have a Battery Workforce Initiative that's developing training materials to support college curriculums and apprenticeships for [battery] jobs based on industry consensus, which a lot of you already do.
It is just a wealth of riches at this moment.
And I recognize—if you have a pen—I recognize your schools probably aren't in contact with DOE every day. But if you have a question, to get any information back on these or any programs, I'm going to give you an email. I’m asking for your pens because it's not an intuitive one. The email is SCEP—that stands for State and Community Energy Programs—SCEP@hq.doe.gov. It's sort of a one-stop-shop for questions that you might have on DOE's energy programs.
And finally, our third call to action. There are students in the room, right?
I am just telling you: You all should be considering a career in clean energy!
This market, I'm just saying, it's gonna hit—according to Bloomberg—$23 trillion by 2030, this market, in terms of creating demand for the products that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
You can get a great job and you can save the planet. It is a win-win! So, stake your claim! Shoot your shot! Join the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are working in clean energy today.
People like Joey Cook from Hamlin, Texas who took classes at Cisco Community College to become an HVAC technician, hired right out of the gate.
People like Kory Bowlin, who studied energy management at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, where she found her passion as an energy analyst.
People like Michael Flores, who went to Cloud County Community College in Kansas for a two-year wind program and went from pinching pennies to never having to check his bank account.
[Cheers and laughter]
That is the promise of clean energy! Tip of the iceberg! So many jobs. All kinds of jobs, for all kinds of people, making all kinds of money.
Together we are building a safer, more equitable future where everybody has a chance to get ahead. What does that look like?
In 2050, if we've met our goals, we are drinking cleaner water.
We’re breathing cleaner air.
We've begun to repair our shared home, our planet.
We're powering our cars and buildings and entire communities with sun and wind and other renewables.
We're outcompeting the world.
We're investing in our workers.
We're inventing energy saving tools beyond our wildest imaginations.
In 2050, we are on a roll.
And after a wildly successful 25 years of focusing on energy, I am confident that community colleges will be able to ask the question: “What's next?”