Male electrician installs solar panels on the roof of a house.

Sustainability is more than a fleeting trend. Clean energy-focused jobs have grown in every state, and the need for trained electrical professionals will continue to increase. The 2023 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER)  revealed the energy workforce added 300,000 jobs in 2022, and clean-energy jobs grew to represent 40% of all energy jobs.

One of the major sustainable movements centers around green buildings. Commercial property builders and homeowners are both making strides toward sustainable practices. Integrating renewable energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, hydrogen, and electrification mitigates reliance on fossil fuels.

What does this mean for electrical industry professionals? Read on to learn how these exciting changes will increase job growth.

Sustainable Solutions & Job Growth

In the Pacific Northwest, we care about our environment and have standards for our communities, which is a driving force behind a more sustainable future and green job creation. Plus, thanks to the CHIPS Act and other green building initiatives, careers in the electrical market are booming nationwide.

According to the USEER in 2022:

  • 12,000 solar energy jobs were created
  • 5,000 new wind jobs were added
  • Electric vehicles created over 28,000 positions

What’s behind the job growth and push for green energy? In addition to the many environmental benefits, sustainable buildings also offer tax credits and savings on energy costs. Through the Inflation Reduction Act, the average household could receive $10,600 to completely electrify. In Oregon, companies could see up to a 40% tax credit for solar installation costs

The demand to swap out older technologies for newer, green alternatives could require 800,000 electricians over the next 25 years.

The Rise of Renewable Energy Sources for Buildings 

Check out how our communities are revolutionizing carbon-neutral building solutions and what that means for our robust electrical sector.

Energy Efficiency Prioritization 

The demand for energy-efficient solutions has increased the use of modern technology like smart systems, LED lighting, and innovative appliances. Energy Star reports that implementing energy-saving methods at home or in the office is the most economical approach to lowering energy consumption. Compared to typical buildings, high-performing buildings save annually: $0.60 per square foot on operations and maintenance and $0.53 per square foot on utility expenses. As energy-efficient trends expand, contractors and electricians will be tasked with designing and installing tech-driven systems. 

Building Electrification 

Alongside energy efficiency, building electrification is another significant move towards greener buildings. Fully electric buildings don’t rely on fossil fuels as a primary energy source and can work in tandem with renewable energy sources and smart technology. They are connected to electrical grids, typically supplied by solar or wind, resulting in lower carbon footprints.

Older structures might need help upgrading their circuit loads to accommodate the modern grid systems. For example, according to Rewiring America, 50-60 million single-family homes contain panels with less than 200 amp ratings. New buildings with higher amperage and intelligent systems will need higher-load panels. The electrical sector will have significant growth opportunities to manage upgrades and build new grid systems.

Electrical Vehicle Infrastructure 

Sustainable buildings go beyond heating and cooling. Today’s home and commercial properties will incorporate EV charging stations into design plans. Electrical system upgrades and familiarity with EV tech will be a must for electrical professionals working with green-car technology.

The Demand for Electrical Professionals 

With the rise of sustainable buildings comes an increased demand for a tech-savvy electrical industry. According to some recent statistics, the demand to swap out older technologies for newer, green alternatives could require 800,000 electricians over the next 25 years.

In the sustainable future, success awaits both experienced professionals and aspiring electricians who stay ahead through continuous education, training, and hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology.

NECA–IBEW Local 48: Driving Innovation in the Electrical Industry

We’re committed to guiding the electrical industry by setting the standards for quality, skill, competence, value, safety, and integrity. NECA members benefit from advanced tech training, safety support, industry resources, elite electrician access, and education credits. IBEW members elevate careers with ongoing education, job placement, career development, and more.

Discover the difference membership makes. 

Larry Warren, member of IBEW Local 48.

Welcome to this edition of our Member Spotlight, where we celebrate the remarkable contributions of our members to their professions. 

In the vibrant tapestry of IBEW Local 48’s history, few figures stand as tall as Larry Warren. Retiring from his esteemed position in 2017, Larry’s journey within the union spans decades, marked by unwavering dedication and invaluable contributions. 

As a journeyman electrician, foreman,  general foreman, superintendent, and project manager, Larry’s expertise and leadership have left an indelible mark on numerous projects and initiatives. Beyond his professional accomplishments, Larry’s role as a mentor and active member of the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC) embodies the spirit of camaraderie and support that defines the union’s ethos.

What inspired you to pursue a career in the electrical industry?Larry Warren, member of IBEW Local 48, sitting at his desk.

I used to work in the grocery industry while also taking care of my seven kids. The job had demanding hours, with weekend shifts and split schedules. I needed a change, something with a regular eight-to-five schedule and weekends off so that I could spend more time with my family. One day, I was riding an elevator and  I overheard someone mention the IBEW. I asked them about it, got some information, and after considering it, decided it was the right career move for me.

“I began my career with a local union associated with retail clerks during my time in the grocery industry. Being part of a union has been a constant in my life. It’s a tradition I inherited from my father, who belonged to the steelworkers union. Working within a union environment has always been my preferred choice.”

I clearly recall the day I went for an interview because it was my birthday. This was back in 1987 or 1988. At the time, I was working as an assistant manager at Safeway. I took time off work to attend the interview, so I was dressed in slacks and a tie when I went for the interview. And I remember walking in and they looked at me and like, okay, are you sure you’re coming to the right place for a job? Do you understand what this work is like? 

The job is definitely in the trenches and they wanted to make sure this was something that I wanted to do. I remember telling them that it was my birthday and it would be the best birthday present ever to get into the trade. 

How did you know you had a passion for this kind of work?

When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I attended a class at OMSI focused on electricity. We did experiments with positive charges using DC currents, and I remember feeling a slight shock while holding hands with classmates. I did well in that class, despite not having any prior electrical background. 

After high school, I joined the military as a medic, initially aiming to pursue a career in medicine. However, those plans didn’t pan out. It’s fascinating how I eventually found myself in the electrical trade by taking a ride in an elevator. 

What was your career trajectory like?

So, I started a five-year course to become a journeyman electrician. After completing the course, I worked as a foreman for a while, then moved up to become a general foreman superintendent. 

“I was hired to oversee a $22 million project, which encompassed instrumentation, controls, and network, and also included managing the union fitters under my contract. This was a tightly bid project, requiring someone capable of comprehending the entire scope, and I ensured the project’s success.”

Later, I transitioned to an office role as a project manager. Alongside my career, I also worked for the union as an organizer, helping bring in new members. This gave me a well-rounded perspective—I’ve experienced fieldwork, union operations, and management roles in the office. Understanding all sides of the industry really helped me succeed in the industry.

How did being involved with the EWMC impact your career?Larry Warren at an event for IBEW Local 48.

I got involved with the EWMC in the early ‘90s and attended a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It was there I connected with folks who were all talking about a common issue among minorities in our industry. They often found themselves laid off first when jobs started to wind down. 

We brainstormed solutions and talked about how having representation in decision-making roles could help address this. I made a promise to myself during that conference that I would strive for a leadership position. 

So, when I returned to my job I spoke with the project manager about the situation we were all facing. I just wanted the chance to demonstrate my ability to fulfill the role of a foreman. He was really receptive and supportive but told me that he didn’t have control over the decisions made by the general foreman regarding who was selected.

However, I ended up being the first foreman on the next project and made a deliberate effort to include minorities and women on my crew, earning us the nickname “Tuskegee Wiremen.” I thought it was funny, but in this day and age, people might not take it the same way.

“Don’t be scared to get into a position of responsibility. I would just say, you know, reach for it. Go after it. Don’t cut yourself short.”

Subsequently, I left that job to help out on another project at Kaiser. It was clear that the person in charge of the project wasn’t very capable. I helped out a lot with the drawings and everything and they realized he wasn’t going to work out. So they fired him. But instead of promoting me, they hired someone else. I decided to quit that job and when I got downtown, Ken Jacobs was in the office and asked me about the pink slip I was holding. I explained what happened. He took it seriously. He looked at my pink slip and said “Gimme that.” 

The next thing I knew, I was offered a position running the Nabisco factory project, which I held for about two years before transitioning to Reynolds Metals and eventually becoming a project manager. Actually, I got the opportunity to interview for that position from Ken Jacobs who had taken my pink slip and stopped me from going back to the hall. 

Of course, at that time, I didn’t have any computer skills and I was a little skeptical about accepting the position because I knew you had to do a lot of stuff on computers, like the drawings and a lot of other technical work. But I had a friend named Ricky Brame and he’s been involved with the EWMC for years and still is.

And I remember talking to him on the phone saying that I didn’t know if I could do it. And, you know, he said something that made a lot of sense. He reminded me that I could always return to the field if things didn’t work out. That assurance gave me the confidence to pursue new opportunities and led me to a successful career in management. I always tell people today that everything we do in life is a learned process so don’t be afraid of the challenge you can learn it like any other job you are trained for.

So being involved with the EWMC was both empowering and helped me know my worth.

Is there a particular project you’ve done that you’re especially proud of?

I was hired by Curtis Stephens at Rosendin Electric to oversee a $22 million project, which encompassed instrumentation, controls, network, and also included managing the union fitters under my contract. They were aware that this was a tightly bid project, requiring someone capable of comprehending the entire scope, and I ensured the project’s success. While I managed several million-dollar projects, this one was, in my opinion, the most challenging.

You were also a mentor during your career. Is there an experience that stands out you’d like to share?Newspaper article featuring Larry Warren as a foreman and IBEW Local 48 member.

Oh, absolutely. So, there’s a company called Affordable Electric. It is owned by an African American gentleman who started his own business but faced challenges with bidding jobs and securing work. 

I spent time with him because I became quite proficient with the AccuBid program, which is essential for bidding work and competing in the market. I mentored Jean and helped him understand the AccuBid program better, identifying areas where he was duplicating efforts unknowingly. Jean started his business around 20 years ago, if not more, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Is there any advice you’d pass on to kids thinking of entering the trades?

You know, number one, I think the trades are the way to go. And it’s important to know that there are several different avenues within the trades. It’s not just going out and just physically working. There are a lot of different career paths. I would also say that you need to make sure you have your math skills together and prioritize being on time. 

“You have to learn it to achieve it.”

I worked as a head coach for a track and field program at a local high school here in the Portland metropolitan area. When I was coaching track, I was tough. The kids loved me but they also knew that if they weren’t at practice on time there were things that were not going to happen—like, you’re not running in the meet. I’ve always felt that beyond winning a race or an event, the true value lies in the character development and the potential for shaping future role models among our young adults.

Another thing is being social. Little groups form in the trades and on job sites, so sociability is important.  I mean, you don’t have to hang out with them, but you’ve got to work with them. Communicating, being approachable, and being social makes a difference while you’re on the job. 

How’s retirement treating you?Larry Warren attending the EWMC 50th anniversary event.

Not only did I have a great career, but my union benefits still take care of me and my family.

One of the significant benefits that many people overlook is the medical coverage. It didn’t cost me anything for medical coverage after retirement which was at 59 until I turned 65 and transitioned to Medicare. Interestingly, even though I’m no longer covered, my wife who was only 54 at the time still has excellent coverage until she turns 65 at no cost to us. Another benefit of being in a union.

My benefits extend beyond just financial compensation. There are four pension plans, which become especially valuable during retirement since social security alone isn’t sufficient. With many employers moving away from offering benefits and pension plans, it’s essential to plan for the future. Social Security payments are often minimal and can be wiped out real quick if you’ve got expenses like car payments and insurance. It’s crucial to consider the long-term benefits of being part of a union like IBEW, despite the physical demands of the work. 

Anything else you’d like to share with folks reading this?

At the end of the day, a lot of people are intimidated to pursue a position of responsibility.  So, I just want to say reach for it. Go after it. Don’t cut yourself short. Don’t stay at the bottom where you’re always going to be told what to do or guided in a direction you didn’t choose.

You have to learn it to achieve it.

About Larry Warren

Retired Journeyman Electrician with IBEW Local 48

Connect with Larry on Facebook.

About the NECA/IBEW Local 48 Partnership 

The collaboration between the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of NECA and IBEW Local 48 is propelling the electrical industry forward, prioritizing integrity, quality, safety, and professional expertise. To learn more about membership opportunities, please visit our membership page.

Wind turbine farm in the desert.

The Pacific Northwest is entering an exciting era of energy efficiency. Businesses in scenic Oregon and Washington are driving the adoption of green technologies and pioneering innovative initiatives. Dive into the forward-thinking commercial ventures shaping the region’s sustainable future.  

Energy Efficiency Trends in Commercial Buildings in the Pacific Northwest

From cutting-edge tech to sustainable practices, check out how our region is going green and boosting energy efficiency.

Renewable Energy The Clean Energy Fund has invested $291 million in clean and renewable energy development and implementation.

Solar and wind turbine energy have a bright future in the Pacific Northwest. In Oregon, House Bill 2021 calls for a complete elimination of carbon emissions by 2024. In Washington, the Clean Energy Fund has invested $291 million in clean and renewable energy development and implementation. 

Commercial buildings across the two states are focusing on renewable energy as the main utility option. For example, the Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded $3.7 million in grants for energy projects across the state, including:

  • $243,000 to Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP) for 121 kW installation at their center
  • $593,898 for solar installations at the Lummi Nation Administration Building and HeadStart Building
  • $112,600 to install a 119 kW solar project at the Yakima Valley Partners (YVP) Habitat for Humanity storefront

Building Electrification Systems 

Another giant leap towards commercial energy efficiency is 100% electrical buildings. Buildings are the second largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and making commercial structures carbon-neutral is key to reducing the effects of global warming. 

Fully electric buildings rely on electricity for all their heating and cooling systems instead of fossil fuels. They are also often powered by solar, wind, or other carbon-neutral electrical sources. In Washington, $10 million in building electrification grants have been awarded to businesses looking to reduce fossil fuel usage. 

Hydrogen-Based Energy 

Hydrogen power has been getting a lot of press lately, especially after the Biden administration announced $7 million for seven hydron hubs across the U.S. What makes hydrogen energy efficient is it has the potential to supplement or replace natural gas and can be used as energy storage. 

Oregon, Washington, and Montana have been awarded $1 million for a Northwest hydrogen hub project. This project will work towards producing green hydrogen using water and electricity and could bring as many as 70,000 jobs across the regions. 

Going Green Protects the Planet & Drives Profitability

There are just a few reasons businesses are looking to reduce energy loss and build more sustainable companies. 

State Tax Credits 

Oregon and Washington have implemented policies that reward businesses that commit to energy reduction.

According to data from Oregon Business, companies are eligible to claim up to 30% of their commercial solar and energy storage system installation costs. With the added incentives from the Energy Trust and the state of Oregon, there’s a potential to reap up to 40% in tax credits to cover solar installation costs. 

In Washington, businesses are eligible for state tax credits for a wealth of green energy projects, including large-scale solar canopies and installations.

Utility Cost Savings 

Statistics show that a commercial building retrofitted for green technology can reduce energy output by 40%. Investing in green energy systems can translate into a better bottom line for business in the Pacific Northwest.  

Preservation of Our Environment 

In the Pacific Northwest, we cherish our distinct landscapes, embrace outdoor tourism for economic growth, and strive to protect our agricultural heritage. However, the Oregon Business report exposes that almost one-third of the energy produced by commercial buildings goes to waste. Embracing green technologies can mitigate this loss, preserving our precious natural resources for generations to come.

Find an Electrical Professional for Your Commercial Project

Whether you are looking to retrofit your building for electricity, install solar panels, or want to learn how to make it more energy efficient, you want to work with an expert electrical professional. 

Hiring an electrical professional ensures expertise in sustainable energy systems. They navigate complexities, ensuring efficient, safe, and compliant installations tailored to your needs. Their expertise maximizes energy savings, minimizes environmental impact, and ensures long-term sustainability.

Browse our list of professionals to get started on your project. 

homeowner looking at smart phone technology.

Exploring the realm of smart home systems might seem daunting at first, but rest assured, today’s technology is more advanced than ever. It brings a plethora of streamlined operations aimed at enhancing your home and lifestyle. Discover the latest innovations below, spanning from robust security measures to wellness features and beyond.

Checklist on how to plan your smart home transformation.

4 Smart Home Solutions & Their Benefits

As a homeowner, there’s no doubt you’ve encountered tons of smart technology products and options on the market. Knowing what solutions are best for you and have long-lasting benefits is important to make informed decisions. 

These current trends are making lives easier through advanced technology.

1) Smart Tech for Wellness

Smart home tech can monitor and improve air quality, reduce humidity, and disinfect rooms with UV lights.

Many people prioritize health and wellness in their lives, with 50% of American consumers considering it a significant aspect of their daily routine. However, we often overlook the role of our homes in supporting our well-being. This is where smart technology comes in, reshaping how we can boost healthy living.

Innovative tech can monitor and improve air quality, reduce humidity levels (a big deal for us in the Pacific Northwest), control temperatures, and disinfect rooms with UV lights. These automated processes can mitigate allergens, prevent harmful mold and mildew growth, and create an overall soothing environment. All of these can go a long way toward better health. 

2) Smart Thermostats 

Speaking of temperature control, intelligent thermostats do more than just keep your home at an ideal temperature. Many systems have eco-modes that regulate settings to optimize temperature, reduce energy loss, and keep utility costs low. Certified Energy Star smart thermostats can save an average of 8% on home heating and cooling costs.

3) Intelligent Security Systems 

Technology has come a long way from the days of punch-panel home alarm systems. Today’s security systems fully integrate cameras, locks, sensors, doorbells, and alarms to keep you safe. Your security information can be controlled and tracked from your phone, whether you are home or away. For example, you can receive notifications if someone is at your front door. With integrated cameras, you can see who they are. 

4) Innovative Kitchen Appliances 

Smart kitchen appliances offer a brand new take on useability and practicality. Smart refrigerators can connect to your home assistants, such as Google or Alexa. Apps allow you to change the temperature, notify you when filters need to be replaced, and—perhaps the coolest feature of all—show you the contents of your fridge without opening the door. Other appliances, from coffee makers to ovens, faucets, and microwaves, can be voice-controlled, so you don’t have to lift a finger. 

The future of smart technology is exciting because it can combine many new ideas to automate homes. Instead of using lots of different apps, modern smart systems can work together smoothly. This collaboration can improve your health, save you money, enhance safety, and more.

Choose an Electrical Professional to Manage Your Smart Home Tech

Whether you’re seeking advice on smart home systems, installation, troubleshooting, or maintenance, opt for licensed and bonded electrical pros. Look for expertise in both electrical and tech installation. Pick a reliable company with expert electricians who undergo advanced training for safety, quality, and top-notch service.

Looking for a local professional? Visit our comprehensive list of top contractors in your area.

Electrical workers in hard hats and safety vests review construction plans.

The CHIPS Act is revolutionizing the Pacific Northwest’s electrical industry, helping to reshape supply chains and boosting innovation. By focusing on domestic semiconductor production, areas across the U.S. are reaping the benefits. The electrical sector in the Pacific Northwest can expect to see increased job growth, demand for innovative products, and industry transformation.

Oregon officials announced an expected $40 billion in semiconductor investment, which could produce up to 6,300 new jobs in the electrical field.

What is the CHIPS Act? 

The Chips and Science Act (CHIPS) was signed into law in 2022 and offered $52.7 billion to U.S. companies dedicated to investment in chip manufacturing. The ultimate goal is to drive more innovation and keep jobs in the U.S. to help boost the economy. According to CNBC data, the U.S. was the leader in semiconductors, claiming 40% of the global market, but in recent years, that hold has dropped to 10%. Through CHIPS, companies in the U.S. will be given financial resources to compete in the global semiconductor market. 

How Does the CHIPS Act Work?

The CHIPS Act focuses on heightening domestic semiconductor production to reduce supply chain issues. Semiconductor chips are critical components used in a variety of industries, including technology, automotive, and manufacturing. 

How Does the CHIPS Act Affect the Pacific Northwest’s Electrical Industry?

The CHIPS Act offers significant benefits to the electrical sector, particularly supporting semiconductor manufacturers and the wider electrical industry. Semiconductors are essential components for the majority of everyday electronic devices.

The electrical field relies on semiconductors for power management, communication systems, and motor control. In the Pacific Northwest, CHIPS has encouraged investment in facilities, training, innovation, and energy efficiency.

  • In late 2023, Oregon officials announced an expected $40 billion in semiconductor investment, which could produce up to 6,300 new jobs in the electrical field.
  • According to Oregon’s governor’s office, 16 prominent and upcoming companies have applied for and been awarded CHIPS Act funds.  
  • These businesses must commit to job creation, with 65% of positions being full-time and permanent.

Additionally, the CHIPS Act addresses utilization requirements and apprenticeship and minority participation.This involves several strategies, including:

  • Funding for minority workforce development in semiconductor manufacturing and other related fields. 
  • Partnering with educational institutions such as community colleges and historically Black colleges to encourage curriculum development tailored to semiconductor technology.
  • Promoting DEI by establishing mentorship initiatives for underrepresented groups and fostering inclusive workplace environments.
  • Incentivizing semiconductor manufacturers to expand their supplier network through partnerships with minority-owned businesses.

Given the influx of potential job opportunities and escalating innovation, it is essential for electrical workers and contractors to adequately equip themselves for the future.

Career Opportunities Call for Cutting-Edge Electrical ProfessionalsBeing knowledgeable about chip technology keeps electrical professionals competitive, enhances their skills, and more.

Chip technology is rapidly evolving, fundamentally transforming the electrical industry. Semiconductors, crucial to this shift, are now found in a wide range of applications, from smart thermostats and solar panels to communication devices and electric vehicle (EV) controllers

For those in the electrical sector, staying up to date about fast-evolving chip technology is crucial. This constant innovation leads to new products, applications, and more. Being knowledgeable about the latest developments in chip technology not only keeps electrical professionals competitive but also enhances their skills and enables them to provide current solutions to clients. Additionally, understanding these advancements helps them foresee upcoming trends and ready themselves for integrating new technologies into their work.

NECA–IBEW Local 48 Partnership: Working for the Electrical Industry 

Our goal is to set the standard in the electrical industry by embodying the pinnacle of quality, skill, safety, value, and integrity, thereby securing the trust and acceptance of our customers and the community.

NECA members can receive cutting-edge technology training, safety compliance assistance, important industry resources, access to leading electricians, employee education credits, and more. IBEW members can boost their careers through continuing education and training access, job placement opportunities, career development resources, and more.

Discover the difference membership can make.

Kennitha Wade, Electrician & NIETC Instructor.

In the world of electrical trades, Kennitha Wade stands out as a beacon of inspiration and advocacy. As an electrician and instructor at the NECA IBEW Electrical Training Center (NIETC), her passion for her craft and dedication to empowering others shine brightly. Beyond her technical expertise, Kennitha is known for her unwavering commitment to investing in outreach initiatives and her active involvement in organizations such as the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC).

Join us as we uncover the stories behind her career, her insights into the importance of outreach, and the impact she’s making in shaping the future of the electrical trades. Get ready to be inspired by the remarkable work of Kennitha Wade as we celebrate her contributions to her profession and community.

How did you get started with IBEW Local 48?Kennitha Wade, Electrician & NIETC Instructor.

You know, right after high school, everyone was like, “Go to college, become a nurse.” That was the plan for me, according to pretty much everyone. Even though I had absolutely no interest in doing that, I ended up following that advice and wasting money on a path I wasn’t even interested in. But I did it because that’s what everyone—my advisors, society—said was the right move.

“It’s all about sticking to what you’re passionate about, even when the going gets tough.”

But deep down, I always knew construction was my thing. I’m all about puzzles and math—always have been. And construction? It’s like the perfect mix of both for me. Out there in the field, it’s like tackling a massive puzzle every day, figuring things out, and then making it all come to life with my own hands. Plus, I get to think on my feet, use tools, and get creative.

Getting into construction, though, was tough. I remember the days of hitting up Yahoo Jobs, throwing my application at any entry-level construction job I could find. Nobody ever got back to me or gave me a clue on what to do next.

Then there’s my friend from my beauty school days, who switched gears and became an electrician. That’s how I heard about the IBEW, though I had no idea how to get in or what it involved. Later, I spotted a flyer for Oregon Tradeswomen and thought, “Why not check it out?” They had this photo of women working on a construction site, and it just clicked with me. I figured I’d attend their orientation to see what’s up. What I heard there resonated with me, so I decided to apply, not sure what to expect. And I got in.

This journey from following a path others set for me to diving into what I truly love has been quite the ride. It’s all about sticking to what you’re passionate about, even when the going gets tough.

What did the apprenticeship program entail?

You go through a five-year program. I did, at least. During this time, you’re learning your job by actually doing it—that’s on-the-job training for you. From the very first day as an apprentice, you’re out there on a construction site, doing electrical tasks under the guidance of a journeyman. That’s your daily routine: go to work, learn how to do the job, get the job done, and then move on to the next one. And this goes on for five years. By the end of those five years, you’ve got a mix of practical experience from working on sites and knowledge from classroom lessons.

This blend of fieldwork and book learning prepares you to take your licensing exam. After all, becoming a journeyman electrician is a licensed profession—you need to pass this exam to earn your title. I finished my apprenticeship in 2017 and then joined the staff at the training center in 2021.

How did you get involved with the Electrical Workers Minority caucus?

I got involved with EWMC pretty early in my apprenticeship, maybe around my second term. It was all new to me—I didn’t really understand what the group was all about. I had received some emails inviting me to join in, but when you’re just starting out in a new career, it’s tough to juggle everything. I was still trying to balance work, school, and life. So, within my first year, they invited me to a gumbo feed event they were hosting.

“For me, the EWMC is like the heart of the IBEW. It’s what keeps the IBEW working and running, and it brings the cohesiveness of being a part of something bigger.”

Honestly, I didn’t have the extra money to buy a ticket, but I figured if I could help out in some way, I would. So, I offered to volunteer. I didn’t even know what I was volunteering for, but they seemed to need some extra hands, so I showed up and pitched in. I think this was back in 2013. Then, they offered for me to go to a conference the next year. I wasn’t sure why they wanted me there, but I thought, “Why not? I’ll check it out.”

And it was that conference for me that really opened my eyes to what IBEW was all about. For me, the EWMC is like the heart of the IBEW. It’s what keeps the IBEW working and running, and it brings the cohesiveness of being a part of something bigger. So, going to that first conference was like, “Oh, this is way more than just a career to make money and take care of your family. This is way bigger than that.”

And so, I learned a lot more about the labor movement, leadership development, and various other things, and making a positive impact on your community is a big part of what the EWMC is about. So since that very first time, I haven’t missed one of those conferences. And I’m very, very active in our local chapter.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing women and minorities in the trades?Kennitha Wade, Electrician & NIETC Instructor, working in the electrical industry.

For one, it’s tough to picture yourself in a place where you’re not seeing people represented who look like you. When you don’t see opportunities advertised to folks who resemble you, it’s really hard to imagine, “Is there a place for me there or not?” That’s one aspect of it. Another thing is just the lack of information.

The idea that you have to go to college to pursue anything else is still a widespread belief today. People think that if they don’t go to college and get a degree, they can’t do much beyond high school. So some of the opportunities available aren’t well-known. Another issue is, that apart from outreach efforts, there isn’t enough offered in schools to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge for certain jobs or even inform them that such jobs exist.

“When you’re solely focused on survival, planning for the future is difficult. It’s hard to envision a future beyond where you’re at, let alone what career you want.”

You know, there’s a lack of hands-on learning in many schools. It’s mostly focused on textbooks, and practical experience is limited. While some schools offer hands-on opportunities, not all do, and it’s often the schools attended by minority students that miss out on these chances. There’s no outreach, nothing to offer more than just what you’re doing—going to class and trying to stay focused. Maybe participating in sports if your parents can afford it. 

Another challenge is the resources available in the community. When I finished high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I knew what I was interested in, but my main focus was just getting by—surviving high school, navigating life, and staying productive. Many students from my neighborhood have the same mindset: just trying to survive and get out of their current situation into something better. When you’re solely focused on survival like that, planning for the future becomes difficult. It’s hard to envision a future beyond where you’re at, let alone what career you want. It’s like you’re stuck in a cycle, and breaking out of it seems impossible when you’re dealing with poverty and struggling to make ends meet. It’s tough to see beyond those circumstances.

How do you approach outreach in the community?

As I attend career fairs and such, the first time I had an “aha” moment was when I went to a career fair and thought, “Let’s invite as many people as possible to sit at our table.” Let’s make an effort to include every gender and minority status we can. 

And, you know, watching all these different students come to the table and talk to people who look like them was really interesting. It made me realize that maybe there’s something to that. When I go to many career fairs, I often see a lot of white males or even white females, but students of color aren’t coming to that table because they don’t feel comfortable.

So, you know, I think that’s a big part—investing in outreach by intentionally including people who look like the demographics you’re trying to reach. That’s a key aspect of actually attracting those individuals. If you’re not intentionally including people who look like them, then you’re less likely to engage the audience you want to capture.

What are some of the challenges young people have in the apprenticeship program?

Getting the job done sometimes becomes challenging because people prioritize their time over showing up for work. Understandably, people value their time, but I also find it hard to understand how going to work isn’t a priority. It’s ingrained in us that you have to work to survive, yet people call in all the time. I think this is just another aspect of the changing work-life balance—nowadays, it’s more about life than work for many people.

And you know, even if the work ethic isn’t top-notch, employers might still hold onto employees because the need is so great. They can’t afford to let them go, even if they only show up halfway every day. But eventually, when times get really tough, that attitude might backfire. In the meantime, people tend to do whatever they feel like doing, I guess. So, one of the challenges of having more young workers in the industry is ensuring that the work gets done on time. Meeting deadlines, especially in construction, is crucial because if people don’t show up, the work can’t get done.

And it’s also important to instill a strong work ethic. I often talk about the benefits of hard work and the importance of saving for retirement, but high school students might not fully understand that yet. But, when they see the paycheck, they’re like, “Oh, yeah. That makes sense.”

What are some suggestions you have for kids considering the trades?

I often think about subjects we used to consider a waste of time, like math. Math, in particular, is really important. You don’t have to be a math genius to get into the trades, but you do need to be comfortable with it—doing calculations, working with tools, that sort of thing. So, knowing that these subjects are important to focus on, especially in high school, is something I like to emphasize. You don’t have to excel in math, but you need to be comfortable with it.

Also, if you can, take any hands-on or Career and Technical Education classes available in high school. You don’t necessarily need work experience to join a trade, but having related classes on your record looks good and can help you get started sooner rather than later. 

What are you loving about being an instructor?Kennitha Wade, Electrician & NIETC Instructor, working in the electrical industry and presenting at a conference.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m not always being used to my fullest potential. Like, I feel like I have way more to offer. But listening to some of the feedback from the students here, representation is huge. We have some students who express how happy they are to have a person of color in the building because they haven’t had one before.

“Being here is about something much bigger than myself.”

That’s one of the many things that keeps me here—knowing that maybe there wasn’t anyone who looked like me in the building before, but for other students, I’m here. I get a lot of people reaching out to me for advice, even people I don’t know. It makes me feel like it’s worth being here, even though sometimes I feel like I could be doing more somewhere else or on a personal level. But being here is about something much bigger than myself.

I make sure they listen to me and follow my directions, and they usually do pretty well. I share my experiences and remind them that I’m just a person like them. If I can experience certain situations on a job site, others are experiencing similar situations. If you can help others not have to go through these experiences alone, that’s great—you’re helping more people. But if we just keep our heads down and only focus on what affects us, we’re not really doing much as a union. 

I tell them that it’s more than just a paycheck; it’s about teamwork. If others aren’t showing up to work, maybe it’s the job site that’s making them uncomfortable. Look at your job site—what is it that might be uncomfortable for people? If you can help those folks out, you make your life and theirs a little easier, and you can make a positive impact.

About Kennitha Wade

IBEW Local 48 Electrician & Daytime Instructor at NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center

Connect with Kennitha on LinkedIn.

About the NECA/IBEW Local 48 Partnership 

The collaboration between the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of NECA and IBEW Local 48 is propelling the electrical industry ahead, focusing on integrity, quality, safety, and professional skill. To learn more about joining us, please check out our membership page.

Member Spotlight: Michelle Thomas, IBEW Local 48 Journeyman

Welcome to this edition of our Member Spotlight, where we celebrate the remarkable contributions of our members to theirMichelle Thomas, IBEW Local 48 Journeyman. professions. Today, we are thrilled to introduce Michelle Thomas, a figure whose expertise extends well beyond the realm of electrical work. As a distinguished member of Sisters in Solidarity, Michelle has become a symbol of strength and unity, advocating for women’s presence and progress in trade professions.

In sharing Michelle’s journey, we aim to highlight the various aspects of her career, her influential role in mentoring apprentices, and the significant impact of her endeavors. Dive into the inspiring narrative of Michelle Thomas, a trailblazer whose commitment and accomplishments pave the way for the next wave of those seeking employment in the trades.

What inspired you to pursue a career in the electrical industry?

Before I started working in the electrical trade, I was working in a warehouse. I was recently divorced and had been left with basically nothing. At the warehouse, I drove a forklift in a negative 12-degree cooler and stacked 85-pound boxes of frozen beef onto a pallet. Negative 12 degrees is painful by the way! I was miserable, the work was backbreaking and the pay was very little. 

I have a friend who is a proud 3rd generation union carpenter, and he came to me and said “You know, the electrical trade is a really good trade, my boss’s daughter just started her apprenticeship, are you good at math?” I had never considered the trades, and I was inspired that he knew a woman younger than me (28 at the time) who was out there doing that kind of work. He told me to go for it, so I did. 

So my journey began, I took the aptitude test and I didn’t pass it, which surprised me, math was always ‘My thing.’ As I stood at the turning point of my life, 28 years old, with no college education, and no financial resources—I had nothing to lose. I wasn’t going to give up, I was going to try again. But there is a six-month waiting period before you can retake the aptitude test. However, I discovered a pre-apprenticeship program and decided to apply. 

This program was specifically designed for women, minorities, and veterans. This is where I got my shot. I was chosen for the program!   This was a 10-week program that included a lot of first-term material, OSHA 10, Boot Camp, and was held at the IBEW training center. What I learned about my classmates was that they had all attempted the aptitude test previously and hadn’t passed, so it was cool to be around people who had experienced the same thing I had. In the program, we practiced for the aptitude test and would retest at the end. I’m happy to say I passed it and started my apprenticeship in August 2017. 

How did you manage apprenticeship training and having to work simultaneously?

How did I survive that?  I was already in a really hard spot in life, but I am a survivor. I would bartend for my mother’s business in the evenings after school and on the weekends. I did in-home care for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s who paid in 24-hour shifts and cleaned houses. I also sold the diamond out of my old wedding ring, sold my quad, donated plasma, and signed up for food benefits. At the time I lived out of town (Longview, WA), it was cheaper but 45 minutes from anything. One of my pre-apprenticeship friends lived out by me so we carpooled to the training center in Portland, cutting my gas bill in half. 

What changed when you became an apprentice?Michelle walking her dog and fishing during the weekend.

When I got in, the pay was $16.17 an hour, which wasn’t much more than what the warehouse paid me ($15.50). But the first thing I did was finance a car, my trusty Wrangler wasn’t the right rig to drive long distances and get the fuel mileage I needed. To help with the added expense I drove Uber almost every day during my drive from Portland back to Longview.

What was your first day on the job like?

I had never been on a job site before so there was a lot of mystery and a lot of fear. Plus, there was the added stress of not showing up late and doing as I’m told—and even understanding what I’m being told. 

On my first day, I got there super early just so I didn’t get stuck in traffic and I just sat in my car. My first job site wasn’t a very good fit for me. They had been cycling through apprentices and already laid off several. I’m sure they wanted a later-term apprentice than what they got. 

So, it’s my first day as an apprentice, my first day on a job site, and I’m the only woman. They told me to do these electrical rough-ins, but I didn’t know what that was. I needed more hands-on instruction. On this site, the journeymen are trying to figure out how much experience you had (none). I’m just glad I don’t have to go through that again! 

Do you currently work in the field as well as the training center? 

Yep, I do both. Right now I’m working at the Holgate Library in Multnomah County as the lead lighting electrician. I’m doing the full lighting package and I have two first-term apprentices. I also do a lot of volunteering with the training center. This has changed my life in so many ways. 

At a minimum, I can give back and share information about these opportunities with other people. That’s where my passion lies, in recruiting and mentoring people who are struggling. I’m able to help people get in the trade by guiding them through all the steps that are required. Being a mentor to apprentices who are struggling is incredibly important to me. 

What’s your approach to training apprentices?Michelle at a NECA-IBEW Local 48 Training Center event.

When I’m building a relationship with an apprentice, I make it clear from the start that we’re in this together, like partners. I’ll say to them, “We’re buddies, right? So, if I spot something unsafe, I’m going to step in to protect you, and I expect you to do the same for me.” It’s about creating a partnership where we look out for each other while we work on projects. On top of that, I admit I tend to give them a little special treatment. After all, they’re my apprentice, my protege, and I feel it’s important to take care of them and make sure they’re treated well. 

“If anyone’s struggling, feels unsafe, or that they’re not being treated fairly, I’m the first to defend them. It’s a dangerous job and  I want them to speak up for themselves and feel safe.”

My expectations for first-term apprentices are that they watch what I do and replicate it, always pay attention to the details, and start to anticipate the next steps in our work. I don’t assume they come with a lot of knowledge, but once I teach them something, I expect them to grasp it, remember it, and be able to do it. I emphasize the importance of asking questions. I make it clear: if you’re uncertain about how to do something, just ask. I’d rather explain it to make sure the job is done right the first time. If anyone’s struggling, feels unsafe, or that they’re not being treated fairly, I’m the first to defend them. I’m setting the example for how the rest of their apprenticeship should go. It’s a dangerous job and I want them to speak up for themselves and feel safe. 

What’s been your experience with Sisters in Solidarity? 

I first got involved in 2023 as a journeyman and I wish I would have done it sooner! From the very beginning of my apprenticeship, I have been a volunteer, an ambassador, and a mentor. I’ve helped two dozen people join the trade and have been volunteering to talk to high schools for the seven years I’ve been with IBEW Local 48. I know these commitments helped me get selected to join the Sisters in Solidarity sponsored trip to the 2023 Tradeswomen Build Nations Conference in Washington D.C.—and it changed everything. 

“It’s knowing that there are other girls out there facing similar challenges, with hands like mine, that motivates me to keep pushing forward, especially as someone who’s been underestimated.”

As a woman, it’s difficult to build friendships in the trades because there are just more men and the experiences women have are unique. Now, I probably have a dozen friends, like real friends. They’re true friendships. They’ll ask how my dog’s doing or if I want to hang out on Saturday. And, this all happened three or four months ago after seven years in the trade. Now I’m the Spokesperson for the Event Committee in the Sisters group.

How do you think the gap in communication between women and men in the trades can be closed?Michelle with other members of IBEW Local 48.

At Sisters in Solidarity, we have a game plan. We’re rewriting some of the rules and application processes to get men more involved in events and things, as minorities and women seem to be the only ones with specific events. In the more recent years, there have been great resources for women and minorities, but men are 90% of our membership. Even though we say they’re welcome, they might not feel that way. We want them involved. Frankly, it’d be fun. Plus, they would learn about what it’s like to be a girl in the trades. 

I’ve found that sharing personal stories, whether it’s with men or women, shows how much we have in common. We’ve all gone through tough times and worked incredibly hard to get where we’re at. I’ve shared my story a few times and the guys were like, “Oh, I didn’t know you went through all that.” It helped us bond because they’ve been through struggles as well. Sharing stories changes hearts. Right now we’re starting a mentor program that I’m helping pilot, so men can be a part of all the progress and not feel they have to fit into a specific category to be a part of the community. 

What are your plans for the future?Member Spotlight: Michelle Thomas, IBEW Local 48 Journeyman

Right now, I’m a year and a half into my five-year plan and I want to continue working in the field so I can continue learning. So whether that looks like me being a journeyman or a foreman, I want to work with the tools more and get familiar with more systems. And there’s a lot you can learn in this trade. Whether you’re working at a mill or you’re building a big commercial kitchen, you have to have the knowledge and skill set. 

My goal is to work another three and a half years in the field before I take a real solid foreman position or as an instructor or recruiter. I had a great conversation with my foreman this week. I had asked him if Mill Plain Electric had any female foreman. He replied, “Do you want to be a foreman?” I said, yes, and he’s willing to help me get there. I encourage other females to have these conversations and think ahead. An electrical license can get you all kinds of fulfilling career opportunities. We will all be aging in the trade and it’s important to understand the biology of an older woman and keep your body healthy and moving.

Let’s go back to that warehouse job we first talked about. It’s -12 degrees, you’re lifting 85 pounds over your head daily, and you’re completely on your own. If there’s one thing you could say to yourself back then, what would it be? 

Don’t give up. Just don’t give up. It does get better. This is not going to last forever and all of your hard work is going to pay off.

Everything I went through led me to where I am today. The divorce, working four jobs in one week and still being broke, selling my stuff to pay bills, and the struggles gave me the confidence to take myself where I wanted to go. It happened when it needed to happen and I know I didn’t waste time. Who knows, if I had the same opportunity at 18 years old, I might have wasted it. It’s a beautiful thing that I’ve gotten to where I’m at.

“Don’t give up. Just don’t give up. It does get better. This is not going to last forever and all of your hard work is going to pay off. “

I’m now 35 years old, engaged, gainfully employed making $60.50 an hour as a Journeyman Electrician, own my own home, and have all the resources of a strong union at my fingertips. What’s more, I get to help others succeed. It’s the absolute all-time high for me. 

About the NECA/IBEW Local 48 Partnership 

The partnership between the Oregon-Columbia Chapter of NECA and IBEW Local 48 is driving the electrical industry forward, emphasizing integrity, quality, safety, and professional expertise. For information on becoming a member, please visit our membership page.

Member Spotlight Bridget Quinn

Welcome to our latest Member Spotlight, where we shine a light on the individuals making significant impacts in their fields. Today, we’re excited to feature Bridget Quinn, a driving force in the electrical industry and a beacon of mentorship and diversity at the NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center.Bridget receiving the Woman of Vision award.

Bridget’s 20-year journey in the electrical trade is marked by her journey-level licenses and role as a dedicated Workforce Development Coordinator. Beyond standard duties, she mentors apprentices and recruits candidates, demonstrating her commitment to diversity and inclusivity. Through collaboration with contractors and educators, Bridget promotes apprenticeships for underrepresented groups, earning her the prestigious Woman of Vision award for her leadership and community impact. This recognition underscores her passion for guiding the next generation of electrical professionals toward success.

Bridget’s mission is clear: to illuminate the path for future electricians through education, empowerment, and advocacy. Join us as we delve into the story of Bridget Quinn, a remarkable individual who is not only shaping the future of the electrical trade but also inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.

How did you get started as an electrician?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always learned best by doing things with my hands. After high school, I went to college because that’s what everyone expected me to do. I started studying anthropology but then switched to art school because I really needed to do something creative and hands-on. In high school, we used to have shop classes, but they got rid of them after my first year. So, I ended up taking a lot of art classes because I just had to be making things.

After I finished college, I wasn’t sure what to do next. I tried to find a job where I could work with my hands, but those jobs didn’t pay well, didn’t offer benefits, and didn’t seem to lead anywhere. I felt pretty lost during that time. But then, I met an electrician who changed everything for me. He told me about an apprenticeship program. Meeting him was lucky because it led me to a career where I could use my hands-on skills in a big way.

What got you involved with NECA-IBEW Local 48?

It was a moment of clarity for me when the electrician who first introduced me to the trade posed a question after I obtained my electrical license. He asked if I had fulfilled my dreams, and while I wanted to respond yes, there was a part of me that hesitated. I felt there was more I could do.

“When I joined the electrical industry, I was interested in solar energy and helping the planet that way.”

He said that if I wanted to pursue a career as an electrician, I should join the union. Ironically, he was a nonunion contractor! He drove me down to the union hall by accident instead of the training center. So we walked into the union hall and there were a bunch of guys standing around drinking coffee and playing pool. I felt like every head swiveled, and it made me feel very, very uncomfortable, but, you know, I stuck with it.

What does your role as a Workforce Development Coordinator entail?

When I first started, I didn’t have any real job description. It was basically to help women and people of color join our apprenticeship programs. It was a big learning curve and I had to figure out a plan. I was fortunate to be able to meet with stakeholders and community members and network with them. That was a huge help because I was able to learn a lot more about specific barriers that women and people of color face when trying to join a trade.

“When I started, there was one other woman in my class and very few out on the job site. Now, I walk down the hallways and I hear women’s voices coming out of every corner of the building.”

What kind of changes did you develop and implement?

I started personally reaching out to every single female and BIPOC [Black, Indigenous & People of Color] applicant at every step of the application process. I explained how the process worked and why it was really important to prepare for each step. I shared resources with applicants and insights into the interview process. I let them know that there were groups that could help mentor and support them as well, like Sisters in Solidarity, the Electrical Workers Minority Caucus (EWMC), and RENEW 48

I also began conducting material handling classes to offer them an advantage. They learned about materials, tools, construction culture, and handling negative situations. Equipped with this knowledge, they could approach contractors confidently.

“In 2011, we had about 12% female enrollment and 12% of our apprentices were BIPOC. Today we’re at 19% women in 27% BIPOC. I think that my role as a Workforce Development Coordinator has played a part in helping increase those numbers.”

I also run our Ambassador 48 program, which is a platform to train our members for career fairs and speaking engagements in classrooms. This allows us to match individuals from our diverse community with schools that share similar diversity and age groups. They can relate more effectively to these younger audiences compared to someone like myself, who graduated from high school many years ago.The NW Youth Career Expo educates students about the many career choices in the electrical trades.

Could you share a success story of an apprentice who has thrived under your guidance or mentorship?

We used to hold public orientations every month in our auditorium. This young gal showed up and I think she might have still been in high school. She was a foster kid and already a single mom. She approached me after the orientation and said, “Hey, I just wanted to let you know that when I first got here, I almost left because the auditorium was full of men. But then I saw you walk in and I saw that you were going to lead the session so I decided to stick around.” 

And so we kept in touch and I helped her navigate through the application process. It took some time, but seven years later she journeyed out and I’ve watched her raise her son, buy her first house, and have a wonderful life for herself. 

When we’re talking about the next generation of electrical professionals, what do you feel they need to succeed?

First off, I’d say passion is key. You’ve got to love what you do because there are days that are going to test you—physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s those days when your love for moving around, using your hands, and creating something from nothing really matters. 

You also need the right skills, especially mechanical ones. Being able to handle tools, stay on your feet all day, work in tight spaces, or reach overhead are all part of the gig. Passion is what keeps you going, but these skills are what get the job done.

Then there’s being prepared. Here at the training center, we’ve got rules and policies you need to stick to—no missing days, no being late. You’ve got to have a reliable way to get here, even if it means dealing with long commutes or starting early. 

“Being physically and mentally ready is one thing, but having a strong support network? That’s gold.”The Portland Public School PACE Mentorship Program gives students hands-on experience in the trades.

Resilience is another big one. Construction means no two days are the same. You might have to adapt to new schedules, new leaders, or new team dynamics. One day you’re with a crew you click with, and the next, you might not be so lucky. This is where your ability to communicate comes into play, helping you deal with tough colleagues or mentors who aren’t exactly thrilled to teach. Being able to navigate those situations, to get the training and support you need, that’s crucial.

What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a career in the electrical trade, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds?

For those in our industry reading this, remember that you’re always on someone’s radar, whether you realize it or not. The way you present yourself on site, how you talk, and how you act doesn’t just influence our current customers and members—it shapes our future ones too.

I’ll give you an example. Once, while working at the Multnomah Athletic Club, I was up on a ladder and suddenly got the sense that someone was watching me. I looked down to find a little girl with her mother, staring up at me. She asked if I was an electrician, and when I said yes, her reaction was priceless. She thought it was the coolest thing. It just goes to show, you never know who’s looking up to you, literally and figuratively, just by doing your job.

So, take pride in your work and let it show. Your actions might inspire someone’s future decisions. Get involved, too—join the ambassador program or help out with what your local is doing. It’s something to be proud of.

About Bridget Quinn

Journeyman Electrician & Workforce Development Coordinator at NECA-IBEW Electrical Training Center

Connect with Bridget Quinn on LinkedIn.

About the NECA/IBEW Local 48 Partnership 

The Oregon-Columbia Chapter of NECA and IBEW Local 48 partnership propels the electrical industry with a focus on integrity, quality, safety, and expertise. Visit our membership page to learn about how to become a member, benefits, and more.

construction site with safety equipment.

With construction workers facing high rates of injuries, pain management needs, and mental health assistance, the impact of opioid misuse is a serious concern.

NECA has joined forces with the Alliance for Naloxone Safety in the Workplace (ANSW) to offer vital fentanyl overdose reversal training for job sites, aiding in the fight against the opioid crisis.

Implementing a Naloxone Training policy is essential in tackling this issue. Naloxone, capable of reversing opioid overdoses, can save lives in critical situations. By offering Naloxone training and supplying worksites with this medication, companies can significantly contribute to protecting their employees’ well-being and addressing the challenges of opioid overdoses in the construction sector.

ANSW empowers employers with essential knowledge, policies, and training to successfully implement Naloxone programs within their businesses.

Alliance for Naloxone Safety in the Workplace Resources

The ANSW offers free resources your organization can use immediately to help tackle opioid overdoses in the workplace.

Additional Help & Resources

If you or a loved one are facing challenges with substance use, don’t hesitate to seek assistance. Reach out to a healthcare professional or explore the provided links for access to support and treatment resources. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey.

Visit Oregon Health Authority’s Opioid Overdose and Misuse webpage

The OHA provides easy access to:

  • Information about opioids, fentanyl, and more
  • Support and treatment resources
  • Oregon-specific and national resources
  • Scholarly articles
  • Helpful video resources

We also invite you to view our Guide to Mental Health Resources in the construction industry.

Three electricians work to install solar panels on the roof of a commercial property.

It’s no wonder why solar panels are so popular. As your solar panels generate electricity effectively over time, you’ll save more money in the long run. Most residential panels operate efficiently for 25 years before any noticeable degradation in energy production. Even after this period, they still convert sunlight into solar energy, albeit at a slightly less efficient rate compared to when they were new.In Washington and Oregon, taxpayers could see up to 26% in Federal tax credits for the installation of green technology, like solar.

Plus, the installation of this green technology can mean money-saving tax credits. In Washington and Oregon, taxpayers could see up to 26% in Federal tax credits.

The Importance of Properly Vetting Your Solar Professional

Sadly, due to rapid industry growth, incentives, and more, there’s been an increase in fraud in the solar industry.

The push to get Americans to adopt rooftop solar panels has increasingly fallen into the hands of opportunistic salespeople with limited understanding of renewable energy. Motivated by high commissions, they’re aggressively marketing solar power nationwide, often sidestepping regulations like Do Not Call lists and misleading homeowners with tactics learned from online “sales gurus.” Many operate as independent contractors, evading accountability to any specific solar company, and earn substantial profits, sometimes by exploiting elderly and low-income consumers.

If you are new to solar panels or just want to increase the longevity of your existing ones, be sure to work with certified electrical professionals and get the job done right. These professionals are rigorously trained and certified, offering expertise and ethical assurance. Choosing wisely defends against deceitful practices, ensuring a reliable and effective solar investment.

4 Reasons to Leave Solar Panel Installation & Maintenance to the Experts 

While  DIY solar panel installation and maintenance might seem manageable, here are four reasons to let the electrical experts handle it.

1) Safety First

There is a reason why electricians and electrical contractors are certified. Working with electrical components, including solar panels, comes with some degree of risk. Electrical professionals are well-versed in safety protocols, skilled in the latest technology, and familiar with high-voltage components. 

In certain circumstances, it’s possible to install solar panels yourself. Washington State allows residential and commercial building owners to DIY their panels with the appropriate permits, for example. However, self-installation comes with a few risks and drawbacks.

  • The permits and paperwork can be time-consuming and confusing. Navigating building codes and city regulations involves thorough research. Plus, if you are connecting your panels to an electrical grid, you also need to secure permission from local utility companies. 
  • If you are still getting familiar with solar panel setup and area coverage, you run the risk of over- or under-purchasing the number of panels you need. This requires either additional spending or more visits to the supplier.
  • Improper installation can be an electrocution or fire risk.
  • Some solar panel companies won’t honor warranties if DIY-installed.

Seeking out professional electrical experts means all your permits will be in order, panels will be correctly installed, and there will be a reduced risk of safety hazards. It’s important to note that the State of Oregon requires contractors and other individuals who install solar photovoltaics (PVs) to be licensed. So, any installation must be handled by a professional.

2) Optimized Power Consumption Licensed and bonded electricians have the expertise to assist you in maximizing your solar energy savings.

To maximize energy savings from solar panels, it’s crucial to calibrate them for optimal power consumption. This involves fine-tuning various parameters such as tilt angle, orientation, and shading to ensure that the panels capture the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the day. Additionally, monitoring and adjusting the system’s performance regularly can help maintain efficiency and address any issues promptly. 

Electrical professionals are trained in PV cell adjustments and more to ensure optimal solar performance. 

3) Diagnostics & Repairs  

Like other appliances, solar panels may encounter issues requiring professional attention. Poor performance, damage, or battery malfunctions can occur. Electrical contractors can conduct a comprehensive diagnostic, inspecting cables, panels, inverters, and isolators to identify and address any problems efficiently.

4) Maintenance 

The key to solar panel longevity is proper maintenance. Routine checks catch issues before they become problems. Most contractors recommend panel inspections annually. However, a maintenance schedule depends on warranties, panel age, and overall condition. 

Electrical professionals can run inverter live tests and ISC checks to determine a panel’s overall performance as well as suggest a schedule based on your unique needs. 

Find a Licensed Electrical Professional Near You

Solar panels are an excellent investment, so you want to ensure top electricians and contractors handle them. If you are looking for experts in the Pacific Northwest who have training on new technologies and are well-vetted in the industry, work with union members in your area.

The NECA–IBEW Local 48 partnership provides businesses, commercial building owners, and homeowners with a list of all licensed union electrical professionals in the area. Find an electrical professional in your area to ensure your solar panel needs are managed with expertise.