Greening the Workforce
Legislative Commission on Skills Development & Career Education
Spring 2008 • Joan K. Christensen, Chair

Assemblywoman Joan K. Christensen
Dear Friend:

As we move forward through the 2008 legislative session, I wanted to take some time to share with you my efforts to help revitalize our economy. I believe that by harnessing the State’s natural resources — our land, water, wind, sun and human innovation — we can create whole new sectors of work for our community by establishing local “clean technology industries.”

The clean technology industry, sometimes referred to as the “cleantech” or “green economy,” has rapidly grown into a multi-billion dollar market sector. Jobs within the green economy are generally concentrated in areas like construction and manufacturing that grant family supporting wages, skills development, and career advancement opportunities. These jobs are essentially blue collar jobs in businesses whose products and services directly improve environmental quality. Green economy jobs are often referred to as “green collar jobs.” Green collar jobs are diverse, but in general these jobs range from: building energy efficient schools, homes, and offices; manufacturing and maintaining solar panels and wind turbines; retrofitting homes for more energy efficiency; making energy efficient buses for our public transit system; to environmental clean up and waterfront restoration. Many green collar jobs require similar skills to those in construction or building maintenance, but require some additional training.

Issue Highlights

Assemblywoman Christensen Hosts Green Collar Jobs Roundtable Meetings

Assemblywoman Christensen Tours Solar Energy Apprenticeship Training Program

Congress Creates Solar Energy Curriculum Development & Certification Grant Program

New York State Green Initiatives

Table 1:  New York State Incentives for Cleantech Businesses

Table 2:  New York State Incentives For Consumers

New York Renewable Energy Task Force Releases Report Outlining a Road Map for Greater Renewable Energy Development

Congress Passes Green Jobs Act

As the green-technology industry takes root, cities across the country are making the necessary investments to create green collar jobs and to train workers for jobs in the green economy. New York’s new green tech economy, however, won’t get very far if the State doesn’t develop the workforce that businesses need. A key component of any green economic development strategy is developing the skilled workforce needed to fill these new green jobs. As green industries are relatively new, states and local communities have to reexamine and develop new workforce development strategies and policies that will help workers receive the necessary training to access green collar jobs. The manner in which the State and local communities approach workforce development for green jobs is crucial. That is why I, as Chair of the Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education, have held a series of green roundtable meetings to take a critical look at how the unique assets of our community can be utilized to cultivate and grow a sustainable green economy, as well as examine the types of skills sets and training needed for the respective green industries.

I believe green collar jobs represent an important new category of workforce opportunity for our community because green collar jobs are well paying quality jobs that can’t be outsourced. You can’t ship a building to China to be retrofitted. Only workers living right here in our communities can do that work. This is why I firmly believe that green collar jobs are not only the jobs of the future; they are the jobs of today.

While there is much more to be done, I am confident that we have the mechanisms, the people and the leadership to further our work toward making the great State of New York a better place to live and work.

As always, if you have any concerns or questions please feel free to contact my district office at (315) 449-9536 or the Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education at (518) 455-4865.

Joan K. Christensen, Chair
Commission on Skills Development & Career Education

Assemblywoman Christensen Hosts
Green Collar Jobs Roundtable Meetings

photo Assemblywoman Christensen discusses the need to develop more public-private partnerships that encourage academic achievement and skills training in high-demand green collar industries.
The cleantech industry is an emerging sector of businesses that contribute to a cleaner, more energy efficient environment. While the term cleantech refers to a wide variety of technologies, these “green” technologies can generally be grouped into four major sectors: (1) Alternative Energy and Power — the use of fuel cells, wind, solar, and biofuels, etc.; (2) Materials and Green Building — the incorporation of energy efficient concepts into building design, construction, and retrofitting as well as materials recovery and recycling; (3) Transportation and Logistics — alternative-fuel vehicles and logistic software; and (4) Air and Water Technologies — water purification, water management, and air management (e.g., air testing equipment and services, emission scrubbers, etc.).

As the green economy industries continue to grow, cities across the country are racing to make the necessary investments. New York, with its abundance of natural and human resources, is well-positioned to develop a sustainable green economy. In an effort to spur economic growth and job creation, Assemblywoman Joan Christensen, Chair of the Assembly’s Legislative Commission on Skills Development and Career Education, hosted a series of green collar jobs roundtables at Syracuse’s Onondaga Community College (Oct. 19, 2007) and at Rochester’s Monroe Community College (Jan. 24, 2008).

Joining the Assemblywoman at the roundtables were representatives from labor, business, workforce and economic development, and education. The following key points were raised at the Syracuse roundtable:

box Why Green Jobs are Important to New York

The New York green collar market is expected to grow over the next decade. As the market continues to expand, there will be increased demand for green collar workers.

In a green economy, people won’t have to move out of the State to get a good paying quality job. Moreover, local green collar jobs will provide workers with:

  • Living wages

  • High levels of job satisfaction

  • Opportunities for occupational mobility

box Green Assets in the Upstate Region

The Upstate Region has the necessary assets to create a sustainable green economy.

  • Natural Resources — The region has an abundance of natural resources and environmental assets (e.g., biomass, wind & solar power, and hydro-power).

  • Infrastructure — The region has strong manufacturing assets (e.g., labor, management, under utilized facilities).

  • Human Innovation — The region has strong research and development (R&D) capabilities at both the university and industry R&D centers.

box Career Counseling for the Trades Industry

Most students and parents are unaware of the exceptional career opportunities in the trades industry. The trades industries have a number of green collar job opportunities that many workers and students would find to be rewarding.

  • Additional investment in student career counseling is needed if the region is to fill the high-wage emerging green collar jobs in the trade industry.

box Green Collar Jobs Training & Education
  • If the State is to create a sustainable green economy, there must be continued investment in the professional development of teachers, particularly math and science teachers.

  • To properly engage students in math and science, there must be additional investments in science kits.

  • The Building Performance Institute and OCM-BOCES are improving the workforce development infrastructure to train workers for emerging green collar jobs.

box Potential Barrier to Creating a Sustainable Green Economy

photo Assemblywoman Christensen talks about the importance of investing in education and training for emerging green collar jobs.

In order to attract green businesses to New York, local green markets must be further developed.

  • New York regional economies can produce significant solar energy; however, local communities must continue to develop the necessary green initiatives, policies, and incentives that will drive growth in the renewable energy market.

While at the Syracuse roundtable, Assemblywoman Christensen noted that the establishment of a sustainable “green economy” would provide an unprecedented opportunity to link environmental stewardship and job creation.

At the Rochester roundtable, participants emphasized the following key points:

box Rochester Strengths in Green Economy

The region has the necessary businesses and academic institutions to create a viable green economy in the renewable energy sector:

  • Kodak is trying to utilize its thin film technology to create solar panels.

  • General Motors, working in collaboration with the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), the University of Rochester, and Delphi, are developing more advanced fuel cells.

  • Agribusiness, particularly dealing with biofuel, is a viable and key component of New York State’s economy and emerging green economy.

box Career & Technical Education, & Trade Work Image Problems

Students, parents, and the general workforce population don’t know how well Career and Technical Educations (CTE) jobs such as electricians, auto mechanics, plumbers, etc. pay.

  • There is a commonly held misconception that careers in the trade industry (e.g., electricians, plumbers, etc.) don’t provide adequate wages and benefits. Trade jobs provide high quality wages to workers and their families.

  • Workforce and economic development officials must work with the entire K-12 system so that the focus is not just sending children to 4-year or 2-year schools because there are high paying quality green jobs that are part of the CTE system.

  • CTE programs should use new green industries to develop interest among students — young people interested in global warming will be drawn to tech jobs in the green economy.

box Green Collar Job Training

There is a shortage of skilled green collar employees.

  • Monroe Community College, in Rochester, is currently developing a comprehensive educational and training curriculum for green workforce development.

At the Rochester roundtable, Assemblywoman Christensen talked about the need to develop more public-private partnerships that encourage academic achievement and skills training in high-demand green collar industries in order to develop more green tech curricula.

box Green Collar Jobs Labor Market Data & Occupational Information

Local municipalities need to have some critical analysis with respects to regional skills assessment and employee skills gaps in order to develop appropriate job training programs and to determine growth areas in the green economy.

Assemblywoman Christensen Tours
Solar Energy Apprenticeship Training Program

photo Assemblywoman Christensen with IBEW Local 86 officials and Assembly Program Development Group staff.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represent approximately 750,000 members who work in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, and telecommunications. IBEW members and local unions are located throughout the United States and Canada.

At the start of the legislative year, Assemblywoman Christensen met with IBEW Local 86 officials to tour their Apprentice Training Program and to discuss how the IBEW is training its members and new apprentices for green collar jobs in the renewable energy industry. IBEW Local 86 currently has a solar energy component of their program.

During the tour, Local 86 administrators briefed Assemblywoman Christensen on the 5-year training and education process that apprentices must undergo to become a certified journeyman electrician. Local 86 administrators explained how apprentices must complete a 5-year apprenticeship period consisting of formal classroom studies and hands-on employment as a union electrician. Classroom studies consist of at least 900 hours of electrical construction coursework, with at least 4,000 hours of full time on-the-job training as electricians. Successful completion of the 5-year apprenticeship program is marked by a 5th year final exam which must be passed before earning a Journeyman status.

Local 86 officials noted that to stay on the forefront of new technologies, especially green renewable energy technologies (i.e. solar panel installation and maintenance), their members and apprentices are increasing their skills, knowledge and awareness of renewable technologies through the installation and demonstration of a solar power photovoltaic system that is located at IBEW Local 86’s training facility.

After the tour, Assemblywoman Christensen acknowledged the pivotal role that IBEW apprenticeship training programs play in preparing our current and future workforce for green collar jobs.

Congress Creates Solar Energy Curriculum Development & Certification Grant Program

On December 19, 2007, President Bush signed into law H.R. 6 Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007 which directed the U.S. Department of Energy to create a Solar Energy Curriculum Development and Certification Grant Program to help strengthen its existing solar industry workforce training and internships programs.

The program has been appropriated $10 million dollars. Under the program, the USDOL will award grants to solar energy training programs that are certified by an “industry-accepted quality-control certification institution.” Qualifying grants recipients will be able to use the funds to:

  • Create and develop a solar energy curriculum;

  • Support certification programs that provide credentialing/certification for individual solar energy systems installers, instructors, and training programs;

  • Support internship programs that provide hands-on participation by students in commercial applications;

  • Support activities required to obtain a certification of training;

  • Purchase equipment necessary to carry-out training or to integrate solar specific learning modules into traditional occupational training and internship programs for construction related fields.

New York State Green Initiatives

New York has made promising strides to grow green business markets within the State. The push to mobilize the resources needed to establish a viable green economy within the State has been principally led by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). NYSERDA offers New York State’s residents and businesses programs that provide assistance with saving energy or reducing energy costs.

At the local level there are a number of initiatives that are underway and are helping to build sustainable regional green economies. Some of these initiatives are as follows:

Onondaga Community College

On October 4, 2007, in the Automotive Technology bay of the Whitney Applied Technology Center, Onondaga Community College (OCC) announced it has been named one of three colleges in New York State to receive a $700,000 Workforce Development Grant. The grant will be used to support the establishment of the Sustainability Institute at OCC. The first phase of the Initiative funded by the grant includes three new academic degree programs:

  • A.S. in Energy and Environmental Systems;

  • A.A.S. in Energy and Environmental Systems; and

  • A.A.S. in Automotive Technology-Emissions Monitoring and Testing.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF)

SUNY-ESF has conducted over $12 million worth of research in biomass energy, including the reliability and feasibility of molten carbonate fuel cells, which operate on coal-derived fuels or natural gas. ESF is also studying the integration of biomass with fuel cells, which use a gasifier to convert wood into biofuel, which is then used to power the fuel cell.

Southampton College of Long Island University

The University has become a regional leader in promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency. Solar cells, wind turbines, and fuel cells operate around the campus and are incorporated into renewable energy research and instruction.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

RPI has installed a biplane tracking photovoltaic (PV) system which is able to track the sun both horizontally and vertically, increasing the efficiency of PV systems by 25% over stationery models.

Syracuse UniversityCenter of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems

The key purpose of the Syracuse Center of Excellence is to create jobs in New York State through collaborations in research, development, and education. One of the Center’s principal areas of focus is in indoor environmental quality, and renewable and clean energy sources from wind, solar power, geothermal, and alternative energy fuel cells. The Center works in collaboration with a number of other academic institutions across the State.

Clarkson University Center for the Environment

Conducts research in collaboration with Syracuse Center of Excellence in turbine development, biomass/biofuel, fuel cells, and cleantech workforce development.

Syracuse Green House Construction Project

The Syracuse Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems working in collaboration with a local team of energy experts has been awarded a $550,000 State grant to help design and construct 6 green homes. The principal goal of the project will be to demonstrate to builders that it is possible to design and build green homes at affordable prices.

Developing the Next Generation of Engineers

Lockheed Martin Corporation has partnered with Project Lead the Way to offer a K-12 education outreach initiative designed to develop the next generation of engineers.

Project Lead the Way is a nonprofit group that provides pre-engineering and technology curriculum to middle and high schools students. In this new initiative, Lockheed Martin will supplement Project Lead the Way curriculum by supporting the organization’s hands-on extracurricular activities that encourage teamwork and provides relevance for the engineering principles learned in the classroom.

At the State level, there a number of green programs and incentives that provide a helping hand to businesses, homeowners, renters, and multi-family building owners. These programs and incentives are presented in tables 1 and 2.

Table 1:  NYS Incentives for Cleantech Businesses
Advanced Clean
Power Plants
arrow Creation of $50 million Clean Coal Initiative Fund and commitment by NY Power Authority to negotiate a long-term power agreement with a private sector developer of a NYS-based clean coal power plant.
Advanced Vehicle R&D
arrow Matching capital funding will be awarded to NYS-based startup companies that develop, demonstrate and deploy next generation vehicle technologies such as batteries, vehicle propulsions systems and lightweight vehicle parts and components.


NYSERDA will issue a competitive solicitation.
Biofuel Production Tax Credit
arrow New York based producers of renewable fuels receive a 15 cent tax credit for each gallon of biofuel produced after the first 40,000 gallons.
Cellulosic Ethanol Pilot Plant
arrow The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has awarded $25 million for the development of cellulosic ethanol facilities. Two companies have been selected to develop and construct pilot cellulosic ethanol facilities in NYS to increase the production of clean renewable fuels.


The projects will build upon ongoing research at several NY universities and accelerate efforts to make cellulosic ethanol a viable option for commercial use.


State grants will be matched by companies. The projects are expected to create 48 permanent jobs initially, with potential for additional jobs in the future. DEC estimates that the facilities will generate approximately $10 million in local economies during the next 3 years.
Renewable Energy Technology Manufacturing Incentive Program
arrow Provides funding for renewable energy technology manufactures to develop or expand facilities to produce certain systems and components, including those related to solar, wind, biomass, and hydro energy.
Renewable, Clean Energy, & Energy Efficiency Product
arrow Program assists companies in the development, testing and commercialization of renewable energy technologies that will be manufactured in New York.
Heating & Cooling Incentive Program
arrow Program provides funding that supports the development and demonstration of advanced heating technologies that improve energy efficiency and environmental performance in residential and commercial buildings.

Table 2:  NYS Incentives for Consumers
Assisted Home Performance Grants
arrow Program provides subsidies to low-income homeowners for up to 50% of costs f or energy efficient improvements.


Eligible equipment includes: (i) washers & dryers; (ii) dishwashers and refrigerators/freezer; (iii) dehumidifiers and ceiling fans; (iv) water heaters, lighting, and furnaces; and (v) heat pumps, duct/air sealing, and building insulation.


$5,000 for single-home owners, $10,000 per building for 2-4 family units.
Assisted Multi-Family Program
arrow Grant program that helps lower the energy bills of low-income and middle-income families whose income is 80% or less of the State’s median income.


Maximum amount assistance offered is $500 per unit of gap funding.
EmPower New York Program
arrow Program focuses on cost-effective electricity reduction measures, particularly lighting and refrigerator replacements, as well as other cost-effective home performance strategies such as insulation, and health and safety measures for assistance to low-income families.
Energy Conservation Improvements Property Exemption
arrow Residences that install qualifying energy conservation measures are exempt from added property tax resulting from costs associated with these conservation measures.
arrow Eligible technologies include: (i) equipment insulation, furnaces, boilers, and heat pumps; (ii) programmable thermostats and energy management systems; and (iii) caulking/weather-stripping, and building insulation.
Energy $mart New Construction Program
arrow The program helps accelerate the incorporation of energy efficiency and renewable energy resources into the design, construction, and operation of commercial, industrial, institutional and multi-family buildings. The program awards grants for projects that involve the use of 50% to 75% renewable energy resources and/or use energy efficiency design.


Eligible renewable technologies for the program are “passive” solar heat and geothermal heat pumps.
Energy $mart Loan Fund
arrow The program provides reduced interest loans (via participating lenders) to finance renovation or construction projects that improve a facility’s energy efficiency or incorporates renewable energy systems.


Applicable sectors include commercial, industrial, residential, multi-family, not-for-profit, federal, state and local government health care facilities.


Maximum amounts of loans: (i) $20,000 for residential construction; (ii) $1 million for multi-family new construction and all other non-residential facilities (plus an additional $500,000 for green building improvements); and (iii) $2.5 million ($5,000 per unit) for existing multi-family construction.
Energy Star Home Builders
arrow The program encourages more industry involvement in the building of “Energy Star Standard” homes (i.e., homes that score at least 86 on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scale) via cash incentives.
Freeport Electric Commercial Energy Efficiency Partnership Rebate Program
arrow The program offers an incentive for its business customers that increase the energy efficiency of their facilities. Participating companies can receive up to $1,000 in equipment rebates from Freeport Electric to help pay for energy efficient retrofits or facility additions.
Green Building Tax Credit
arrow The Green Building Tax credit provided to owners and tenants of eligible buildings that meet green building standards. Qualifying participants can claim tax credits against corporate, personal income, insurance or banking taxes.
Home Performance w/ Energy Star Loan Program
arrow Provides unsecured loans for the installation of qualified energy efficient products. Loans range from $2,500 to $20,000.


Terms of unsecured loan — 5.99% APR for fixed loan terms of 3, 5, 7 and 10 years.
Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) Solar Pioneer Program
arrow Program offers rebates that are approximately 50% of the cost for a photovoltaic cell (PV) system.


Incentives provided: (i) residential and commercial — $3.75/watt DC; and (ii) schools, not-for-profits, government agencies — $4.75/watt DC.
LIPA Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program
arrow Program offers LIPA customers rebates for increasing the energy efficiency of their homes. Eligible efficiency technologies that are part of the program are heat pumps and air conditioners.
$mart Equipment Choices Program
arrow The program provides funding for the installation of equipment and small renovation of structures in non-residential facilities.
Solar & Fuel Cell Tax Credit
arrow Qualifying participants can apply for a personal income tax credit for the expenditure on equipment for “passive” solar heaters, solar water heat, PVs and fuel cells used on non-residential property.


Provides a 25% tax for solar electric and solar-thermal system as well a 20% tax credit for fuel cells.
Solar Sales Tax Exemption
arrow Exempts the sale and installation of residential solar energy systems from the State’s sale and compensating use taxes.
Solar, Wind & Biomass Energy Systems Exemption
arrow Provides a 15-year real property tax exemption for the following eligible technologies: (i) solar water heat; (ii) solar thermal heat; (iii) PVs; and (iv) wind and biomass technologies.


Exemptions apply to systems that existed or were constructed prior to July 1, 1998 or constructed subsequent to January 1, 1991.
Small Commercial Lighting Incentives Program
arrow Program provides assistance and reimbursement for businesses that install energy efficient lighting in small commercial spaces.


Maximum reimbursement is $35,000.
Wind Incentive Program
arrow Program provides reimbursement to participants that develop a network of eligible installers who can install wind turbines. Maximum reimbursement of $100,000.
LIPA Energy Efficient Commercial Construction Rebate Program
arrow Program provides reimbursement to non-residential customers that increase the energy efficiency of their facilities.


Maximum reimbursement is $100,000 per project and $300,000 per building.
PV Incentive Program
arrow Program provides incentives of $4 to $4.50 per watt (DC) to eligible installers for the installation of approved, grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) system. Program reimburses up to 60% of total installation cost.

New York Renewable Energy Task Force Releases Report Outlining a Road Map for Greater Renewable Energy Development

Last summer, the Governor’s office convened the first meeting of the Task Force in order to: (i) identify barriers that are hindering the increase of renewable energy production in the State; (ii) develop recommendations, initiatives, policies, and new financial incentives that will eliminate barriers that are affecting renewable energy development and growth; and (iii) identify future market areas within the renewable energy industry where additional research and development investment should be made.

Comprised of 20 members, the Renewable Energy Task Force represents a diverse array of stakeholders in the renewable energy field, including the renewable energy and alternative fuel industries, environmental and agricultural communities, academia, public utilities, local and State government entities, and experts in energy policy, green building construction and economic development.

After months of deliberation, the Task Force, on February 25, 2008, proposed a set of recommendations that would significantly increase the State’s capacity to generate renewable energy and move New York toward greater energy independence. The following seven recommendations are the principal components of the Task Force’s renewable energy strategy:

Re-commit to Meeting the State’s
Renewable Portfolio Standard Goal and
Evaluate Raising Renewable Energy Target

Background — The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is the legal policy that requires that renewable energy sources be used to meet a minimum percentage of the State’s total electric demand. The Task Force believes that the current State policy on renewable fuels is not adequate and that New York should address critical concerns regarding the specific fuels we may use — both to solve our energy mandates and environmental concerns. Moreover, the Task Force believes the current RPS funding of $782 million is not sufficient to meet New York’s goal to obtain 25% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2013.

Proposal — To instill investor confidence in the future of the renewable power markets in New York and to ensure that the State meets its renewable energy goals, the Task Force recommends that the Public Service Commission should examine the feasibility and costs of expanding the RPS target from 25% to 30% by 2015.

Enhance and Expand New York’s Existing
Net-Metering Law

Background — Net-metering is a process of metering that allows a home with its own renewable energy generator, such as wind turbines or solar panels, to sell excess power back to the utility company. Under net-metering, excess electricity generated by a customer will reverse their meter backwards, thus providing the customer with a credit for their utility bill. Current net-metering laws only apply to a select number of residential homes — there are limited opportunities for non-residential customers to install on-site renewable generation and take advantage of net-metering.

Proposal — The Task Force calls for the Legislature to pass a new net-metering law this year to allow net-metering for all customers. Moreover, the Task Force proposes that the State increase the size of projects that are eligible for net-metering.

Invest in Clean Energy Businesses for
Economic Growth

Background — New York currently invests in clean-tech industry initiatives through the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). NYSERDA is a public benefit corporation created by the Legislature to develop solutions to energy and environmental problems via research and development and energy efficiency projects. ESDC is the State’s lead economic development agency.

Proposal — The Task Force recommends that the State increase its funding commitment by a minimum of $400 million over 4 years through financial incentives to support clean-tech industry cluster research and development projects.

Build a Sustainable Market for
Solar Energy in New York State

Background — Solar technology allows us to harness the sun’s power and turn it into electricity. The major component of solar energy technology is the photovoltaic (PV) cell. PVs can be used in home roof systems, large commercial buildings, or solar power plants. Building an energy market with emphasis on renewable energy resources requires coordinated and sustained State policies and an environment conducive to investment. Both public support and private investment are required to address the full range of workforce development, technological, and business growth issues.

Proposal — The Task Force recommends a comprehensive set of programs to address market needs along with an investment in public/private research to ensure that NY continues to capture the economic benefits of solar energy. The new programs will focus on:

  • Creating incentives for solar systems manufacturers to develop and distribute their products in New York;

  • Promoting cost efficient systems;

  • Creating well paying solar installation jobs; and

  • Creating incentives for both homeowners and businesses to choose solar PV and solar thermal energy.

Proposal — The Task Force recommends that the State should set a goal to install 100 megawatts of solar PV and 1,100 solar thermal systems statewide by 2011.

Develop a Strategy to Reap the Benefits of
New York’s Wind Energy Potential

Background — Wind power is the fastest growing energy technology in the world. Because of the size of turbines and the complex machinery inside them, wind power can bring many jobs to a community. Renewable energy experts predict that for every 1000 megawatts (MW) of wind power generated, 3,500 manufacturing jobs will be created. For the State to reach its full economic growth potential in this emerging industry, New York must take the necessary steps to increase its installed wind capacity.

Proposal — To realize the full potential of the wind energy market the Task Force recommends that the State should address local siting and permitting issues associated with wind turbine development.

Proposal — The Task Force further recommends that the State should establish a collaborative wind research and training center to support the construction, operation and maintenance requirements of the wind industry.

Expand Training Programs to Sustain a
Green Collar Workforce

Background — The renewable energy industry is a labor intensive sector that generates a wide variety of high-wage and high-skilled jobs in the areas of: (i) research and development; (ii) design and manufacturing; (iii) construction and installation of power generating facilities (turbines, solar arrays and fuel cells); and (iv) maintenance and operation of renewable energy systems. In its report, the Task Force notes that while the potential for growth in the renewable energy sector is tremendous, there are a number of workforce challenges. The Task Force cites a 2006 study from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) which identifies the shortage of skills and training as a leading potential barrier to renewable energy growth. The NREL study identified a number of critical unmet training needs, including lack of reliable installation, maintenance, and inspection services, the shortage of key technical and manufacturing skills, and the failure of the educational system to provide adequate training in new technologies.

Proposal — The State should align and expand existing accredited training programs to recruit and develop an abundant supply of highly skilled workers who can design, install, and maintain renewable energy systems in New York. To accomplish this goal, the Task Force recommends the following measures:

  • Direct the Department of Labor (DOL), New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the State University of New York (SUNY), the City University of New York (CUNY), and other appropriate entities to immediately take an inventory of existing workforce training programs and streamline and leverage resources from these existing programs to maximize training opportunities;

  • Expand existing NYSERDA training programs to include training for maintenance and operation of large and small scale renewable technologies such as wind, solar thermal, and biomass;

  • Provide resources for New York’s universities, community colleges, and other accredited training organizations to establish curriculum and training programs to re-train the existing workforce and to develop the skills of students entering the job market;

  • Identify strategies and best practices for retaining qualified green collar workers;

  • Target residents of disadvantaged communities as well as minority- and women-owned businesses; and

  • Direct DOL, NYSERDA, SUNY, CUNY and other appropriate entities to annually report to Executive and Legislature on green market workforce trends.

Build on Public and Private
Educational Programs

Background — Since the renewable energy market is relatively new, communities, states, and local governments have to re-examine and develop new education and workforce development strategies to help workers receive the necessary skills to access green collar jobs. If the State’s renewable energy market is to continue to grow, public acceptance and the knowledge base of the industry must continue to expand. The role of education is therefore critical in bringing about the transformational changes in public acceptance of the clean energy sector. Though New York has invested in public education on energy issues, there still remains some confusion, misconceptions and skepticism about the reliability of green power sources as well as the economic benefits for various socioeconomic groups.

Proposal — To alleviate these problems the Task Force recommends the following measures:

  • Direct SED, NYSERDA to develop and implement a K-12 education initiative introducing the concepts of renewable energy;

  • Establish a consumer messaging campaign targeting renewable energy, conservation, and consumer choice purchasing options;

  • Development of a public education and promotional program to support the transition to renewable fuels; and

  • Develop guidance for local municipalities by directing the New York State Department to lead an interagency effort to create a comprehensive toolkit for municipalities to help them promote the installation of renewable energy technologies and that promotes State consistency.

Assemblywoman Christensen noted that the Renewable Energy Task Force report provides a road map that helps the State build for the future.

Congress Passes Green Jobs Act

In December 2007, Congress passed an omnibus energy bill (H.R. 6 Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007) that was signed into law by President Bush on December 19, 2007. A key part of that bill was the “Green Jobs Act 2007” which establishes the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Worker Training Program. Under the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Worker Training Program, the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) will create five green collar jobs training programs:

  • National Research Program;

  • National Energy Training Partnership Grants Program;

  • State Labor Market Research, Information, & Labor Exchange Research Program;

  • State Energy Training Partnership Program; and

  • Pathways Out of Poverty Demonstration Program.

Congress has authorized $125 million (nationally) in funding to establish these new green collar jobs training programs. The programs will provide training opportunities for dislocated and incumbent workers, youth, and low-income individuals who are seeking career pathways in the energy/renewable industry. Additionally, some program funds will be used to collect and analyze labor market data to track workforce trends from energy-related initiatives.

Assemblywoman Christensen noted that Congress’ passage of the Green Jobs Act is important because the law promotes job creation that provides communities with sustainable living economies while rolling back pollution and creating healthier cities and better neighborhoods for families.

Photos from the Green Collar Jobs
Roundtable Meetings


Photos from the Solar Energy
Apprenticeship Training Program


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