Electricians: Six Reasons Your Job Just Became More Secure
By: Edward Ruiz | Aug 31, 2022
Government backed green energy initiatives mean the demand for electricians has never been higher! An ongoing and increasing shortage of electricians at all levels of experience has emerged.
Green energy initiatives are driving the creation of new electrician jobs. These policies are softening, if not eliminating, any impacts of cyclical workforce reductions in the electrical construction industry.
Let’s take a look at what has occurred recently in government green energy policy and what is to come for electricians in the green energy market. These are also the six reasons why your job is secure as an electrician.
1. Electrification of the U.S. federal fleet of vehicles and corporate fleets is creating electrical jobs
The United States Congress has passed numerous laws concerning EV (Electric Vehicle) fleets and other green technologies which will stimulate the need for electricians. This year the H.R.3684 – Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed and included several programs in green energy technologies including EV fleets and energy efficiency.
Proposed legislation includes electrification of all possible military vehicles and programs for federal EV fleet development.
Electricians are now responsible for building a network of power distribution, EV chargers, battery service, energy storage systems, and service work needed to keep the equipment running. An energy storage system (ESS) is defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) as “one or more components assembled together capable of storing energy and providing electrical energy into the premises wiring system or an electric power production and distribution network.” It will take at least two decades to build this network and get the U.S. where it wants to be.
2. Federal Investment Tax Credit (FITC) for green technologies is still here and creating electrical work
In its early days, the FITC gave back 30% of total costs for green technology purchases made by homeowners and businesses as a tax credit. The solar market was given a mighty push by this credit which greatly increased the call for installers and electricians for residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) arrays. Wind and other green technologies also prospered. The FITC will be limited in the future and will diminish in stages, but it still remains in effect and is still driving the expansion of many green technologies. The FITC still will create additional electrician jobs, even in its twilight years.
3. Safety policy on the federal and state level will create the need for more certified electricians
The National Electric Code (NEC) states that only qualified persons should be working on electrical equipment. It’s up to each municipality and state to enforce and interpret this mandate. The solar industry has defined many of its installers as general labor even though they handle electric equipment. The state of California is putting an end to this by demanding all solar installers become certified electricians. This will help drive wages upward and increase employment in the solar industry for those who are certified apprentices and journeymen.
NEC changes are constantly occurring for the better in three-year cycles with the next group of revisions slated for 2023. These changes create work to meet compliance with new rules and to safely integrate the next generation of green technology into the grid architecture.
4. Environmental policy is limiting the building of coal burning electric power plants, decreasing nuclear generation, diminishing hydro-electric resources, and decreasing the distribution of crude oil. This will increase the need for more green energy and more electricians.
From 2021 forward, over 90% all new electric power plants will be carbon-free. This is a great trend for industrial electricians required to build new electric generation plants for ever increasing demand of current. These new plants will harness wind, solar, geothermal, and other emerging technologies and their construction will require electricians with green technology skills. The demand for more electricity was creating job security to begin with. Now, with the ban on coal, this will increase the need for electricians in the green energy and natural gas sectors. sector.
5. Grid stabilization and redundancy by building ESS needed to be able to run a green energy grid
The greatest technological hurdle a green electric grid faces is the power quality and availability of electrical generation at key moments when load demand on the grid is highest. Renewable energy is not the best way to maintain high power quality unless there is an ESS backing it. California and other states are providing incentives to consumers to purchase ESSs for residential and business environments so they can help provide grid stability. They are also investing in grid-level storage and trying to create a dynamic decentralized grid. The installation of these battery systems has already created new electrician jobs and will continue to create many more.
6. Residential energy efficiency mandated by state and municipal code for new construction. New permitting rules allowing for accessory dwelling units will also increase job outlook
Many states have greatly increased safety codes for fire, lighting efficiency, and electrical efficiency of appliances. There is also a move to allow greater density of units in urban areas to solve the housing crisis. Additional work is being created for electricians by these types of changes to government policy.
From the California Employment Development Department: In California, the number of Electricians is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Electricians are expected to increase by 9.6 percent, or 7,500 jobs between 2018 and 2028.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics sees the same increase, at 9.1%. These are great numbers and show your future as an electrician is secure.
Now is a good time to get some continuing education in green technology or become licensed as an electrician. The future is green and full of wires. You can bet a career on it!
About the Author
Edward Scott Ruiz is a CA Certified General Electrician, a credentialed electrical and solar Instructor in CA and AZ, former college professor of photovoltaic systems at Santa Monica College, retired contractor, currently an electrical apprenticeship instructor, and a LEED AP O+M. He has developed job pathways for Homeboy Industries Solar Panel Training Program at LAUSD and served as consultant to Solar on Multi-family Affordable Housing, a California green workforce development board.