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EC Seattle Connects Community Workforce Benefits to Utility Energy Efficiency Incentives

Emerald Cities Seattle has received a contract from the city to conduct a community benefit analysis for a proposed community workforce program providing career opportunities for communities of color and women, in connection with energy efficiency incentives offered by Seattle City Light, the publicly-owned local electric utility.

Like many other utilities, Seattle City Light provides incentives directly to building owners to encourage their investments in energy efficiency.  But the utility has had no direct influence on the workforces of the contractors performing the energy efficiency work for building owners. 

EC Seattle is hoping to change that with a community workforce program providing opportunities for communities of color and women.

Research on Women, Minority Employment
EC Seattle has been working with Seattle City Light on the workforce initiative for approximately six months and is completing the research phase of the project, including assessing the representation of women and people of color in the contractors’ workforces, the use of apprentices and opportunities for graduates of pre-apprenticeship programs.

To date, the partners have determined that half of the energy efficiency work supported by incentives is performed by 10 energy service contractors on medium and large projects, and that those contractors are overwhelmingly union companies.  

And in consultation with the Partnership for Working Families, the parties are also examining how utilities around the nation build community benefits into their incentive programs, so those practices can inform options for Seattle. 

The next phase of the project will identify options for a community workforce program and solicit input from all stakeholders.  A final program proposal is due to the City Council by January 2015.  

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