An article by IN THESE TIMES News, titled 'This Emerging Green Technology Could Decarbonize Buildings and Provide Good Union Jobs,' highlights the transformative potential of thermal energy networks (TENs) in New York. TENs, a groundbreaking green technology, not only promise to decarbonize buildings across the Empire State but also offer the prospect of good union jobs. This innovation is pivotal in reuniting displaced energy workers with their loved ones by providing them with local employment opportunities.
The article profiles members of the Clean Energy Jobs Coalition-NY and sheds light on the struggles of New York's energy workers. These individuals have been forced to traverse the country in search of jobs to support their families, following the rejection of local powerhouse projects. The emergence of TENs is not just a technological breakthrough; it represents a beacon of hope for these workers, enabling them to return home.
Moreover, the potential of TENs extends beyond job creation. It has fostered unprecedented collaborations between labor and climate movements, paving the way for a seamless transition to a clean energy future.
Below are excerpts from the piece.
Following a string of power plant closures in recent years, Peter Prince, a steamfitter from upstate New York, has been forced to travel continuously to find union work, resettling in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Arizona. Since 2018, Prince has been on-the-road for 12 months out of the year, returning home for Christmas and his daughters’ birthdays. “I’m far away. I don’t see my family,” Prince told In These Times, “I don’t speak to my kids except for a few minutes a day.” According to Prince, this is a hardship shared by the majority of his colleagues.
[NYS Pipe Trades] members, who work on pipes, boilers, and power plants across the state, are crucial to maintaining the gas system which heats most buildings — and which must be phased out to comply with New York State’s landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019. (New York’s buildings account for nearly one-third of state emissions and over 70% of emissions in New York City alone.)
Because thermal energy networks require the same piping infrastructure that his members are so skilled at constructing and repairing, [John] Murphy was thrilled — and he immediately called Jay Egg, creator of the design, to discuss the proposal.
Murphy says that thermal energy networks provide “as close to a just transition as you will find in the energy transformation that we’re seeing.” Thomason, like Murphy, has high hopes for the technology within the renewable transition. “For the building sector, this is probably going to be the best solution,” Thomason told In These Times.
Five years ago, Caitlin Heerdt, a welder from Long Island, found herself forced out of New York to find work. When her father passed away from Covid-19, she was unable to find a job in her home state to spend time grieving with her family. For Heerdt, thermal energy networks offer the possibility of “bringing people like myself home.”
“My members are not partial to what runs through pipe,” explains Murphy. “They just want to work. They want to be able to provide for their family because they followed all the rules, they’ve gotten all the training, and they want to be part of the clean energy transition.”
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To read the entire article, visit IN THESE TIMES here.