Traverse City Energy Experts, Officials Look to Veterans to Fill Growing Demand

Clean energy experts, city officials and veterans all in one place discussing how to meet the growing demand for clean energy in Traverse City.

Traverse City Light and Power held a round table discussion on Monday and it’s no coincidence they did it on Veterans Day.

Earlier this year, Traverse City Light and Power’s board adopted a new strategic plan to deliver 100 percent renewable energy by 2040 and a midterm goal of 40 percent by 2025.

But they need help getting to those goals.

With the city’s renewable energy goal and more solar panels and wind turbines being built, utility companies need skilled workers to build and install them – and these companies are looking to Veterans to fill those jobs.

“This is an emerging industry and we have had almost a tripling of employment,” said president of CBS Solar, Allan O’Shea. “It’s the fastest growing facet of the state of Michigan in jobs right now.”

CBS Solar, a Traverse City based solar panel manufacturing and installation company says right now, they have three veterans in their group

“One is an electrician, one is a sales person and one does our quality control and our Nano coding applications,” said O’Shea.

Northwestern Michigan College is known for their commitment to veterans.

“I deal a lot with Veterans on the education side,” said Air Force Veteran and program coordinator Daniel Goodchild. “When they come out, they’re looking for additional training in a new career field and a lot of that ties into construction, construction ties into the development of the renewable energy industry.”

NMC currently has a solar installation class and a geothermal class, helping their students get hands on training to keep up with the growing demand.

“Give them not only the theory behind how all the equipment works how to apply it but to actually get them to do the work that they’ll be doing out in the field,” said Goodchild.

“Would like to have the Veterans know, as my sons and our Veterans, you’re not alone just step up and talk and trust and we’ll get you trained a long with this team that’s here,” said O’Shea.