California Electricians Obtain Coaching in Microgrids and Storage as A part of Local weather, Fairness Effort

A new training and certification program in California provides electricians with the skills needed to work with microgrids and storage, and is designed to ensure minority and disadvantaged residents benefit from the program.

Microgrids and storage

Photo courtesy of ESAMTAC

As part of an effort to train workers for jobs that address climate change, the California Workforce Development Board has awarded a $ 1.25 million grant for training and certification through a new nonprofit, energy storage and microgrid training and certification (ESAMTAC) provided.

The larger $ 25.6 million effort, which includes additional climate protection projects, aims to ensure equality in climate-related jobs, said Aida Cardenas, assistant director of equilibrium workplaces for the California Workforce Development Board. The project’s other grants are funded by the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund – money generated by California’s cap-and-trade legislation – and fund public utilities, healthcare, water, public services, and the manufacture of electric buses, among others.

“The goal is to achieve a reduction in climate protection and good job quality,” she said. “Justice is about access to quality jobs. But we are also looking at communities with obstacles and creating better jobs through training the workforce, ”added Cardenas.

The energy storage and microgrid project focuses on training electricians on storage and microgrid technologies, for which many have not been trained. About 95% of the work required to work with these technologies is done by electricians, said Bernie Kotlier, executive director of the Labor Management Cooperation Committee in California and Nevada. The committee is a partnership between employers, including the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The two organizations have around 20 joint teaching and training centers for electricians.

“This grant support is critical to the production of hundreds or thousands of electricians who can safely and effectively do this job,” said Kotlier. He estimated that 300 to 400 people would take part in the program annually for the next few years.

One of the issues the grant is designed to address is the safety of lithium-ion batteries in energy storage. “Energy storage is not your typical electrical work. It adds a new dimension to electrical work. “Lithium-ion batteries have a long history and reputation for thermal runaway and other challenges. This means that consumers and businesses may be reluctant to install storage.

“We want to give people confidence that they should be using storage devices. To do this, we must ensure that installation, commissioning, repair and decommissioning are carried out safely. “Average electricians are unfamiliar with the two technologies,” said Kotlier.

ESAMTAC offers a course in which electricians and trainees learn to understand the dangers of lithium ions and other batteries and to install and maintain them safely.

“If we do this, the public will be much safer, including home residents, office-dwellers and people who live near major utility systems,” he said.

With a greater focus on electrification to combat climate change, new technologies are constantly being introduced and many are based on electricity. It is a challenge for apprentices and electricians to stay current on what it takes to work with these technologies. “Universities and schools face the challenge of keeping up with technology,” he said.

To meet the grant program’s equity goal, the nonprofit is reaching out to colleges, disadvantaged communities, veterans and former inmates, Kotlier said.

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Microgrid developers in California can capitalize on the work done through the grant by hiring contractors whose electricians have been certified by ESAMTAC. Establishing a list of certified contractors is one of the objectives of the program.

“ESAMTAC is only just getting started. We don’t have a critical mass at the moment. So contractors can’t hire as many trained electricians as they’d like. “However, with the help of the Workforce Board, they will soon be able to find contractors using the ESAMTAC website to employ electricians with this type of training.

The ESAMTAC program is part of the High Road Training Partnerships program, which aims to create a “high road” economy that focuses on jobs that help families affected by poverty.

The grants are for 11 projects in a variety of industries helping California fight climate change. Industries include logistics, public transportation, water utilities, electricity utilities, healthcare, food production, agriculture, janitorial and electric bus manufacturing.

This is the first round of High Road grants that are part of California Climate Investments, funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

For the microgrid and energy storage project, building trust in the technologies is an important goal that has far-reaching effects.

“The project is critical to building confidence and reducing risk, which is true for banks, insurance companies, government funds and all kinds of risk-averse institutions that don’t want public support for these technologies to wane,” said Kotlier.

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