Biden Department of Energy to IBEW: Grant Program Now Extended to Unions

Biden Department of Energy to IBEW: Grant Program Now Extended to Unions

The Department of Energy has millions of dollars in funds to award – and staff are encouraging IBEW local unions and their partners to apply for energy job training and manufacturing grants. 

DOE has announced plans to fund $24 million to establish Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) to help small and mid-sized manufacturers reduce energy waste and improve productivity while training workers for careers in clean energy and advanced manufacturing. DOE staff from the Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains (MESC) said streamlined procedures and additional support can smooth the way for first-time applicants. 

On a Zoom call with IBEW leaders on Feb. 29, Government Affairs Director Danielle Eckert emphasized that grants can go directly to local unions, or in partnership with employers, prospective employers and others. 

Taking advantage of this program will grow not only IBEW employment in the manufacturing branch, but IBEW jobs in general, she said. MESC selection criteria favors applications that include a union workforce.  

“Under the leadership of Secretary [Jennifer] Granholm, DOE has been very focused on being a good partner to labor and demanding that their applicants – wherever possible – are creating high-road jobs with DOE money,” Eckert said.

“We give high scores to applicants who partner with labor organizations,” said Jordan Dickinson, MESC’s labor-industry liaison. “We have more confidence there will be a trained labor workforce, which will contribute to a more successful project. That’s something we look for and put weight on.”

MESC staff have developed resources for applicants, including a detailed solicitation overview and the opportunity to submit an optional concept paper here. Complete submissions can be uploaded here

DOE staff said key deadlines are approaching, including:

  • March 28: Optional concept papers due 
  • May 16: Applications due

Ninth District International Representative Micah Mitrosky said the opportunities presented by the grant program are prompting interest from West Coast local unions with members working in clean tech and advanced manufacturing.

“We want to make sure that the new manufacturing technologies are linked to quality jobs that come with the training, good wages and benefits that are the hallmarks of union representation,” said Mitrosky, who works on renewable energy and clean transportation issues in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, California, Alaska and Hawaii. 

Through the last three years, the Biden-Harris administration has demonstrated its intent to re-shore American manufacturing jobs, which had been on the decline for decades as a result of trade policies that encouraged foreign-made goods over domestic production. 

“The IBEW was once a leader in manufacturing and we can be there again, with the opportunities afforded under the Biden Invest in America agenda,” Eckert said. “Our department is here to help be a resource and an advocate to connect and fight for those opportunities.” 

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