PSEG Chair Sounds Alarm for Energy Workforce

The energy industry could face a perfect storm unless efforts are ramped up to prepare the workforce of the future, PSEG Chair and Chief Executive Office Ralph Izzo told the Labor and Management Public Affairs Committee (LAMPAC) meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 27.

LAMPAC is a cooperative effort among utilities and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) to improve labor and management relations and educate members about policy issues with the potential to impact the industry.

Izzo said that a substantial number of baby boomers within the utility industry are preparing for retirement and this will impact the energy industry. He noted that the average energy worker will soon be almost 10 years older than the average U.S. worker. In five years, the industry could lose half of its workforce, affecting such positions as power plant technicians, engineers, and line workers, he said.

"To meet challenges of this magnitude, we need to think about workforce development more comprehensively than in the past," Izzo said. "Labor, business, educational institutions, and government need to explore ways to create a closer alignment between what is learned in the classroom and what is needed in the workplace."

Izzo stressed that not only do retiring workers need to be replaced but additional workers are required to build and maintain new infrastructure to support the increased demand for energy and to fill jobs created by the burgeoning "green" economy.

"Timely action by our industry to reduce greenhouse gases can stimulate one of the biggest waves of job creation in our nation's history," said Izzo. "There will be a huge need for workers to install solar panels, build wind turbines, lay insulation, do energy audits, and bring more energy efficient lighting, cooling, and heating to homes and businesses across America."

Izzo said that the utility industry must ensure that it has enough skilled workers to deliver clean, reliable energy in the future -- and it must begin planning now.