Workforce, Education, and Training (WE&T) is not something that is new to Energy Efficiency. Whether they are put out by utility companies in CA or by the CPUC, workforce programs are an imperative portion of the EE industry. Per the CPUC’s Energy Efficiency Report from May 2018, the WE&T Program is not only integral to the California Long-Term Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan but also aims to support energy savings targets put out by Investor Owned Utilities across California. Historically speaking, “the CPUC first provided guidance to the IOUs regarding Workforce Education and Training activities in the 2010-2012 program cycle.” This Strategic Plan explained that “by 2020, California’s workforce is trained and fully engaged to provide the human capital necessary to achieve California’s economic energy efficiency and demand-side management potential.”
As 2020 is approaching faster than expected, I want to circle back to the statement above. Is our current workforce set up to maintain the standards created within this program cycle? If so, is how is the success of the program measured? Most Energy Efficiency components are evaluated based on energy savings, which is a tangible number(s). Seeing that WE&T is mainly a non-resource program, the value or success of it can be a little bit more difficult to identify or measure. To make this process more straightforward, the CPUC categorized this program into three separate branches (Categories, Connections, and Planning). While each subcategory served its own purpose, they all contribute to program’s portion of the portfolio and goal for training and educating the Energy Efficiency industry. Check out the table below that break downs each subcategory, it’s funding, and what exactly it entails.
2013-2015 Program Cycle
Based on the breakdown presented in the table above, we can see that a majority of funding goes to the “Centergies” category (72%). From technical engineering to hands-on training, this category serves to aid those who are active in the industry. The Energy Efficiency report goes into more details regarding IOU training for these stakeholders as well. The program thrives in the IOU center spaces, offering dozens of training a year.
The additional subprograms configure about 28% of the WE&T funding, but I want to primarily focus on the “Connections” category (25%). During my time in the EE space, I have grown to understand the importance that connection serves in our communities. Not only is it imperative to establish connection with IOU partners, but also with the local governments that we serve. Without the connection, the project pipeline shrinks in correlation with the energy savings. It is highlighted that this funding for this subprogram is used to “establish energy efficiency education and training at all levels of California’s educational systems.” This is one of the few factors that focuses on the future of our industry which I find extremely important. As an industry, we must establish ourselves in the lives of those who may not be employed by Energy Efficiency, yet. Offering trainings and educational seminars to the groups of students who are navigating their way through choosing a career path is a market that we need to reach. Connecting with these groups and discussing the value of energy efficiency expands educational collaborations that were set forth as goals to these subprograms. As mentioned previously, “the leading reasons for hiring issues are insufficient qualifications, certifications, and education.” We must use this qualitative data to drive the Connections category of the Workforce, Education, and Training Program by the CPUC.
Many people across the United States and beyond are acting and establishing those connections at the educational/ institutional level. Check out these organizations that are rooting Energy Efficiency in their values and proactively working to switch the issues that exist.