Michigan Utility Workers Travel to Washington Urging Investment in Local Renewable Energy Industry

State’s Wind Farms Power Almost a Half Million Homes and Support Hundreds of Jobs

WASHINGTON, DC (March 13, 2019) – Two Michigan-based renewable energy specialists representing Locals 104 (Saginaw) and 124 (Ludington) for the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) recently met with lawmakers in Washington, DC advocating federal funding for crucial training programs that will help grow the state’s renewable energy workforce. Kristopher Chard of Marlette and Matt Thompson of Manistee were two of the 170 individuals who participated in the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual advocacy day. In total, participants conducted 250 meetings with U.S. House and Senate lawmakers in one day.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of Michigan’s wind industry,” said renewable specialist and Local 104 member Kristopher Chard. “As the demand for wind energy grows, it’s important that many other veterans like me have access to the necessary training to transition into good, family-supporting jobs the wind industry provides.”

Kristopher Chard and Matt Thompson in front of the U.S. Capitol during AWEA’s advocacy day

Kristopher Chard manages 20 of the 81 turbines currently online at a 153-megawatt wind park in Unionville, conducting turbine operations and ongoing maintenance. As a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp, he completed a two-year program in 2013 at Delta College graduating as a wind technician. He now works as a renewable energy specialist and has been working in the wind industry for six years.

“We were pleased to bring insights about the impact the industry is having across the state to lawmakers and we have been encouraged by the feedback we received,” said renewable specialist and Local 124 member Matt Thompson. “Lawmakers seem to understand the industry supports communities, good jobs and economic growth, but that we can’t take this growth for granted.”

Matt Thompson manages 18 turbines at a 100-megawatt wind park near Ludington, MI including maintenance and operations at a solar garden and backup battery supply in the area.

Michigan ranks 15th in the nation for installed wind capacity and continues to attract investment in installed capacity and the wind energy supply chain.

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The Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), AFL-CIO represents more than 50,000 active members employed in the energy, electric, gas, steam, water, telecommunications, generation, and related professional, technical and service industries. The UWUA was chartered in August 1945 to replace the former Utility Workers Organizing Committee, the CIO union for utility workers. D. Michael Langford is the UWUA National President. For more information visit https://uwua.net.