IBEW/NECA Partnership Creates Green Energy Jobs

Long before “green energy” became a buzzword, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and its partner, the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), began investing in “green training” for its workforce. Today, the renowned IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center has produced more than 2,500 highly skilled journey workers, proficient in all types of green energy installations. They serve 24 counties in Eastern Missouri and the city of St. Louis and their proficiencies are now being exported out of state to work on highly complex renewable energy projects.

The green training program is part of a national $140 million investment by IBEW/NECA in renewable energy training at no taxpayer expense.

In Missouri, both IBEW apprentices and journey workers have benefited from a “green curriculum” that has grown to 75 courses that include:

  • Building automation
  • Photovoltaics (solar)
  • Fuel cells
  • Temperature controls
  • Demand limiting
  • Programmable logic controllers (PLC)
  • Wind turbines
  • Lighting controls
  • Energy Efficiency

Professional instructors at the training center have contributed to creating new courses, including a first-ever national Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) to support the electric vehicle industry. To date, more than 400 IBEW electricians and up to 50 NECA contractors have received training in EVITP.

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The media began taking notice in 2009 as the investment in green energy training began to pay dividends for the state of Missouri, the IBEW workforce and NECA contractors. In 2012, the success of EVITP was spotlighted in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed. In 2013, the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center became a learning laboratory by adding solar panels to its roof. St. Louis Construction News and Review spotlighted the new teaching tool.

As a result of the pioneering green energy curriculum, IBEW/NECA skills are highly sought after to build renewable energy projects, both locally and nationally. Major installations have included:

  • The 416 roof-top solar panels installed atop St. Louis chemical distributor Walsh & Associates’ warehouse in South St. Louis in 2010. At the time, it was the largest rooftop solar array in Missouri.
  • A 100-kilowatt solar energy system for Paseo Academy in 2011, which at the time was the largest solar energy system in metro Kansas City.
  • The recently completed O’Fallon Renewable Energy Center in O’Fallon, Mo., which for the first time, added solar energy to the mix of power production being delivered to Ameren Missouri's 1.2 million electric customers. Comprised of 19,000 solar panels covering more than 19 acres, it generates 5.7 megawatts of electricity to Ameren Missouri's grid and is the largest investor-owned utility scale solar facility in Missouri.
  • Abengoa’s Solana Concentrated Solar Power Plant in Gila Bend, Az., the world-¦s largest parabolic trough plant. The 250-megawatt (MW) concentrated solar power (CSP) facility reliably serves 70,000 Arizona Public Service (APS) customers.
  • Hugoton Biomass Energy Plant for Abengoa Bioenergy Biomass of Kansas, a plant that uses a mixture agricultural waste, non-feed energy crops and wood waste to generate 25 million gallon per year of ethanol plant and 18 megawatts of electricity.
  • Additional Abengoa projects to create the Mojave Concentrated Solar Power Plant supplying 250 megawatts of power to Pacific Gas & Electric and the 206-megawatt Mount Signal PV Solar in Calexico, Ca., the world’s largest single-axis solar plant. It supplies power to 72,000 San Diego area residents.

For more information on the green energy jobs created by the IBEW/NECA partnership, visit the Electrical Connection web site at www.electricalconnection.org or contact Executive Vice President Jim Curran at 314-781-0755. To learn more about the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center, visit www.stlejatc.org or contact Director Dennis Gralike at 314-644-3587.