Submitted Testimony to the City Council re: Local Law 97 Green Workforce Pipeline
- Con Edison is committed to climate action and to leading the orderly transition to the clean energy future that our customers deserve and expect.
- The decarbonization of buildings is a unique opportunity to provide good-paying jobs that can boost economic recovery, particularly in disadvantaged communities.
- A robust public policy response is necessary to meet the future need for green jobs.
Con Edison serves 3.5 million electric customers, 1.1 million gas customers, and 1,560 steam customers, and employs more than 12,500 talented, diverse, and dedicated people, of whom 55% are union members. Utilities are major drivers of infrastructure investment in the local economy, supporting good-paying, middle-class jobs. Utilities in New York City are expected to invest more than $14 billion from 2020 to 2023 and projected to support the creation and retention of 80,000 to 100,000 jobs. This includes an aggressive investment of more than $8 billion budgeted in 2022 from New York City’s tristate metropolitan region utilities and authorities for energy efficiency, renewable energy, battery storage and grid modernization, creating and supporting an estimated 50,000 jobs.1
Our recently expanded Clean Energy Commitment sets forth how we will lead the transition to a net zero economy by 2050 and help the State and City meet their climate goals. An important part of our commitment is to enhance our collaboration with customers and stakeholders to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods we serve and live in, focusing on disadvantaged communities. Put simply, no one entity can create our clean energy future by itself. We need to work together to find solutions that provide multiple societal benefits, including green jobs. And we need to make sure the energy transition works for all.
The Pathways to Carbon Neutral study that the Mayor’s Office and utilities conducted makes it clear that we need to close a deficit in the skills the city’s workforce needs for us to decarbonize our buildings2. An increased focus on workforce training in clean energy jobs will be essential to our transition off fossil fuels. With our energy efficiency programs, grid investments and support for electrification, Con Edison will continue to play an important role in supporting the workforce of the future. As a member and active participant in the Local Law 97 Advisory Board we recognize we are embarking on the mobilization phase of the law and now is the time to identify future workforce needs.
The company fosters green jobs through several channels. Here are some examples:
Support for organizations
Through our charitable giving program, Con Edison supports more than 50 organizations across New York City and Westchester County addressing workforce development and green jobs training to build STEM career pathways. In 2021, we were proud to provide more than $12.6 million to support more than 600 nonprofits in New York City, Westchester, and Orange and Rockland counties as part of our commitment to strong communities and a clean energy future. One example is our creation and support for Energy Tech High School, in Queens, which prepares students for careers in engineering and technology.
Our Smart Kids Energy Efficiency Program for 5th graders and high school students is another example of how we engage youths. The program helps students learn about the clean energy future and seeks to spark their interest in the topic with a kit of fun materials, workbooks, and program guides. The program team has delivered approximately more than 47,000 kits to students and teachers this year.
Company decarbonization programs
Our energy efficiency programs provide major opportunities to support a green workforce. The Clean Energy Academy provides a pipeline of skilled workers for our energy efficiency programs and implementation contractors. More than 290 participants have received training from this partnership between NYSERDA, Willdan Energy Solutions, and Con Edison. More than half were recruited from priority populations, including but not limited to: veterans, 18- to 24-year-olds, previously incarcerated individuals, and individuals living in under-resourced communities.
By being creative, we can maximize the benefits of the shift toward renewables and make sure it is inclusive. Our Community Power Program installed 1.2 megawatts of solar generation atop 40 buildings, across three New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments. Our partners, including Green City Force and Solar One recruited, trained and hired underemployed NYCHA residents to install the solar panels. Through our program, these residents received a living wage and gained hands-on experience working in the clean energy economy. Using revenues from the rooftop solar production, we will provide bill discounts to more than 450 customers from low-and-moderate income households that enrolled in the program.
As with the programs mentioned above, we must scale existing green jobs programs to meet future needs. We will need an organized effort identifying and matching the future workforce to the need. At Con Edison, we’re providing our workers with new skills as we transition to a clean energy economy---we did this with meter readers as part of our move smart meters. But how can we work together, regionwide, with all stakeholders, to transition jobs that get us to a net zero economy? We see an opportunity for state and city officials to convene interested stakeholders on this topic. A gap analysis followed by a focused public policy response with significant resources to enable this outcome is necessary to reach the scale we need. We welcome that discussion and look forward to working with the Council, the administration, and all other stakeholders to seize this opportunity.