Coal Miners’ Work Ethic, Skills Find a Home in the Green Economy
21st century coal mining is on its last legs, but its work force—hardworking and loyal, and possessed of significant technical expertise—is being increasingly recruited into an appreciative renewable energy sector, reports the Environmental Defense Fund Energy Exchange.
Among the companies anxious to hire former coal miners (or their sons and daughters keen to work in the green economy) is EnerBlu, a Los Angeles-area battery storage company “that plans to invest US$400 million in eastern Kentucky and may eventually hire 875 people in Pikeville, the heart of Appalachia coal country,” EDF reports on The Energy Collective.
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Also attracted to coal miners’ work ethic is Chinese wind turbine manufacturer and service company Goldwind Americas, which has promised “free wind technician training courses to laid-off coal workers and other job seekers” in Wyoming. The company plans “to provide up to 850 large wind turbines in the state, and needs technicians to maintain them.”
EDF highlights the work of Dan Conant of Solar Holler in West Virginia, which “partnered with a non-profit to train people in coal field communities for new careers in an unexpected business: rooftop solar installation.”
So far, “at least 30 people under the age of 25 have gone through the program,” Conant said. “Solar Holler has also trained several former coal workers who, with freshly-minted technician skills, can now find openings in West Virginia’s budding solar industry or anywhere in the United States.”
Meanwhile, back in Pikeville, there are nine former miners who, after 20 years on the coal face, have been retrained—and hired—to write code.