Focus Area: Energy and Climate
New York State's Energy Sector
The energy sector is going through an exciting transition as new and emerging technologies are changing how we generate, transmit, and use electricity.
Utilities are changing the way they maintain and repair poles and wires. New businesses are transitioning into the energy sector as the cost of renewable energy continues to decline. As consumers are demanding more choice over how their energy is produced, businesses and homeowners are purchasing electricity directly from wind and solar farms.
The State of New York has big goals for restructuring its energy sector - including 70% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% carbon free by 2040 - which is sure to help hasten the pace at which these transitions occur. We foresee significant workforce development opportunities because New York State will need a well-trained and highly skilled workforce to meet these aggressive goals.
While New York has a highly skilled and well trained workforce, gaps exist nonetheless in key skills required for this transition. These skills gaps must be addressed or our workforce risks being left behind. There are jobs coming in wind, solar, energy storage, renewable heating and cooling, and many other areas of the energy sector, but efforts must be made to connect New York’s workforce with renewable energy career pathways.
What Does Our Energy Program Do?
WDI staff are committed to providing New York’s workforce with the skills needed to respond to a transitioning energy sector. WDI’s work in the energy sector is flexible and demand driven, and therefore can take many forms including research, policy development, serving as a resource to others, and hands-on program development.
WDI routinely plays a role in the following energy-related areas:
- Tracking energy policy, sector trends, and emerging technologies to provide government agencies, unions, businesses, workforce development boards, and community based organizations with information related to workforce trends and potential workforce impacts of these policies, trends, and technologies.
- Working to keep the workforce front and center as government, labor unions, and businesses make decisions in the energy sector.
- Convening workforce development experts, including labor unions, businesses, government, and not for profits to discuss skills gaps.
- Connecting organizations in order to address energy workforce skills gaps.
- Serving as a trusted source of information about New York State’s clean energy workforce and as a trusted advisor in energy workforce program development.
- Hands-on project development work, based on region and demand.
Examples of recent projects include the following:
- Development of New York’s 1st supply chain database of businesses working in or capable of working in the Offshore Wind industry. The goal? To raise awareness of this emerging sector among New York’s businesses, and ensure they are positioned to gain work that arises as offshore wind farms are planned and built;
- "New York State and the Jobs of Offshore Wind Energy", a report that explores the skills and occupations required to take an offshore wind power plant from an idea through development and construction to spinning turbines generating electricity;
- A program to provide lineworkers with training on new smart grid technologies currently being adopted by utilities;
- Financial support for equipment used to train electricians on installation and maintenance of electric vehicle charging stations;
- Facilitation of New York’s first wind farm technician training school;
- Development of a pre-employment training program on Long Island to help fill open positions at several utilities;
- Connection of New York’s Building and Construction Trades contractors to opportunities in renewable energy.
Ross Gould joined WDI in 2015 and currently serves as Director, Energy and Climate Program. Ross assesses the impact that energy policy, sector trends, and emerging technologies have on the workforce to drive conversations about energy workforce development. He also tracks areas of opportunity within the energy sector where new employment is likely and workforce development needs are anticipated. Ross travels throughout New York State to obtain ground level intelligence about the state's energy workforce, the hiring demands of employers, and training programs. Ross also serves as an advisor to partners in government, unions, industry and academia.
Ross has a wide range of experience working in the private, public, and not for profit sectors. Prior to WDI, Ross worked as Legislative Director and Counsel for the New York State Senate drafting legislation in energy, environment, and economic development. Ross also managed the air and energy program for a statewide environmental not for profit, where his work focused on renewable energy and clean energy jobs.
Ross is the author and co-author of several articles and reports that assess the impacts of environmental and energy policies on jobs, including “New York State and the Jobs of Offshore Wind Energy.”