“On both sides, both on the skill development and on the placement of these investments, there is a real effort to make sure that every pocket of America benefits from this clean energy agenda,” Granholm told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Clean energy jobs grew by 34% in Georgia last year, according to a new report.
In 2022, Black or African American workers made up a disproportionately low part of the energy workforce overall, only 9%, the Energy Department report found. This is lower than their representation in the overall national workforce.
Granholm was accompanied in Atlanta by Ali Zaidi, President Joe Biden’s national climate advisor. Stops included a Home Depot on Cumberland Parkway, a roundtable with labor leaders at the IBEW hall in downtown and a showcase of Black-led clean energy groups. Her last stop in the state was a town hall at Georgia Tech with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Glenda Thomas was one of the Black clean energy group leaders who met with Granholm. Thomas is the CEO of ElectraGrid Solutions, a powerline infrastructure contractor. Being a Black woman in the energy industry is “challenging, but it is also rewarding,” Thomas said. To diversify the workforce, Thomas has also created a pipeline for high school students to go into non-traditional jobs.
It’s a similar effort that labor unions in Atlanta, like IBEW and the Ironworkers Union, have put in place through a pre-apprenticeship program for young people from underserved neighborhoods. Granholm and Zaidi highlighted the unions’ work at a roundtable with labor leaders.
About 75% of clean energy jobs will not require a four-year degree, and Zaidi said companies with union employers are twice as likely as non-union employers to require programs to boost minority training and recruitment.
“What’s really mind blowing is the energy level, the sophistication and the incredible growth trajectory that we see [in] these apprenticeship programs that are being organized by unions here in Atlanta and in Georgia,” Zaidi said.
Granholm’s visit also included a stop at Home Depot to preview incentives consumers can benefit from in the Inflation Reduction Act.
At the store, officials from the Atlanta-based hardware giant, Granholm and Zaidi looked at electric lawn mowers, water heaters, energy-efficient insulation, windows and smart thermostats.
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