Apr 01, 2015

Robin Rabiroff

Oregon can show the nation how to power the future and organized electrical workers are just the people to help build it. Transitioning off of polluting fuels to renewable energy is the right thing to do for the health of our families and communities. Imagine all the opportunities for new jobs as we build up our solar and wind power, upgrade our buildings and transmission systems to utilize electricity more efficiently, and install new charging stations for zero-emission electric cars and trucks statewide.

Most people don’t realize it but Oregon gets a lot of electricity from coal-burning power plants. To achieve a clean energy economy, a great deal of transition in our current energy production needs to occur. Oregon workers, and particularly the IBEW and our labor partners, are positioned to be a driving force behind that change. We built the existing infrastructure and have the tools and knowledge to build the new clean technology infrastructure.

IBEW jobs pay a family-sustaining wage. Providing security to our families with healthcare and retirement is great for our members and the communities that we all live in. A shift in how we power our lives opens entirely new marketplaces for skilled workers in Oregon. It is a tide that lifts all ships. Higher wages support a high quality of life and builds a strong tax base to pay for things like: schools and libraries, police and fire services, roads and social programs.

We had a “gold rush” of sorts here in Oregon a few years back for renewable energy. The people demanded that the state get more electricity from renewable sources. We built up clean sources of power to meet the renewable portfolio standard. It was a great first step toward a clean energy future that created good jobs. After the goals were met, solar and wind construction stalled. Then the recession dealt a big hit to the industry.

It’s time to renew our commitment in Oregon. We’ll move away from polluting energy to a clean energy economy. The potential for growth-- if we devoted ourselves to transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewables-- would be on par with the programs of the Roosevelt administration. Oregon would be an example to the nation, even the planet.

Robin Rabiroff works in business development for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 48 in Portland, Oregon.