After a hearty lunch that included more spirited discussions on energy policy implementation, Black Enterprise Editorial Director Sonia Alleyne, and moderator of the second panel at the Black Enterprise “Conversation on Energy” forum, got straight to the point when she asked panelists to describe the green jobs being created in their companies.
Richard E. Williams, president of Shell WindEnergy Inc. joked about the popularity of the green jobs phenomenon, “I worked for Shell for 30 years, 28 were with Shell pipeline and no one wanted to speak to me as long as I was with the pipeline sector. You start a wind company and everyone wants to speak to you,” he said. He went on to explain how the renewable energy workforce is not only popular conversation, but it is also popular for future job opportunities.
When asked for the challenges faced with trying to pursue green jobs or new energy opportunities, Lloyd Yates, president and CEO of Progress Energy Carolinas said, “African Americans are not taking advantage of the certifications and retraining programs available. And we don’t see enough minority companies responding to our requests for services,” he added.
Christopher C. Womack, , executive vice president and president, external affairs with Georgia Power agreed, saying “We have to become creative. … We may have to break-down certain jobs and divide the work, or do something that allows us the capacity to fulfill the job.”
Just as with the morning’s opening session that addressed how to go from policy to engagement in the new energy economy, each of the panelists agreed that solutions will be multifaceted and long-standing.
“These solutions are not immediate,” said Womack. “In this microwave society, everyone is looking for that quick fix, or the silver bullet, but it doesn’t exist.”
AndrÃ© Williams is the founder and principal consultant of Energy Relations.