FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Dan Conant, Solar Holler – 304.268.1430
Shane Wolfe, IBEW Local 317 – 304.710.0336
DATE: August 18, 2021
Solar Holler and IBEW Local 317 Launch Ads Calling on WV Congressional Delegation to Invest in Clean Energy Jobs
Two new TV ads spotlight WV union jobs in growing solar energy sector
New jobs can stem Mountain State population decline
Huntington, WV – Today, Solar Holler and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 317 released two new ads entitled “Braden” and “Haley,” which showcase union workers growing the solar power industry in West Virginia. The two groups are calling for federal support of union-built solar as Congress debates a significant infrastructure package.
“There is a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure being negotiated right now in Washington, D.C.,” said Dan Conant, Founder and CEO of Solar Holler. “Support for good union jobs building clean energy in West Virginia has to be part of those investments.”
The ads feature two IBEW electricians both of whom work on the installation team at Solar Holler, the largest solar company in the state’s growing clean energy sector.
Solar installer and IBEW electrical apprentice, Braden Ferguson says, “We’ve always been known to generate energy here. Renewable energy would definitely help generate jobs and get people back to work. […] Solar, wind [power] — these can help reinvigorate West Virginia’s economy.” Speaking from his own experience, Braden highlights the ways in which solar opportunities can benefit West Virginians and help them stay in the Mountain State.
According to the US Department of Labor Statistics, in January of 2020 West Virginia’s economy boasted 720,000 non-farm jobs. As of June 2021, even with recent gains, the state’s economy is still more than 30,000 jobs short of that benchmark. Job numbers and population statistics have gone hand-in-hand. The recently released US Census data shows that in the last ten years West Virginia’s population has dropped by 59,000, the largest decline in the country. Solar Holler and IBEW Local 317 believe federal support for solar and other renewables could shift these trends.
“For generations, IBEW electricians raised and maintained our utility grid. Now, we’re building new generating sources that will power future generations,” said Shane Wolfe, Business Manager at IBEW Local 317. “Right now, solar electricians are a small part of our membership, but also the fastest growing segment. Federal support would only strengthen opportunities in the electrical trade.”
“Across the nation, nearly half a million Americans work in the renewable energy sector,” said Dan Conant, Founder and CEO of Solar Holler. “If our state had our fair share based on population, 2700 West Virginians would work in wind, solar, and hydro. That’s nearly 3 times our current numbers. Other rural states that have embraced solar, like Utah, are more like 10-12x ahead of us in solar jobs. The opportunity for job growth is huge.”
In the second ad, Solar installer and IBEW electrical apprentice Haley Stevens says, “I like what I do, this is the best job I’ve ever had.” She discusses the security she feels as a single mother being part of a union with strong benefit options. “When you think of solar panels, it’s more like California. You wouldn’t think Appalachia would have any. It would be smart if the government would invest more in clean energy resources.”