Michigan needs more electricians to keep the lights on

As America relies more heavily on electricity
Downed power lines
Posted at 11:46 AM, Mar 03, 2023

CANTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — It's a problem we're seeing pan out ourselves in Michigan, thousands go without power after extreme weather events and there's not enough electricians/technicians to respond.

Jason Todd, Energy Coordinator and Director at MIAT College of Technology in Canton said, "This industry for lack of a better word, it just doesn’t know what to do right now."

According to the National Electrical Contractors Association more electricians retire every year than are replaced, and currently nearly 30% of union electricians are close to retirement.

"They’re retiring," said Todd. "We can’t keep asking them to come back to work. Somebody's gotta replace them."

At MIAT, anyone over the age of 18 can come and train to be a wind service technician, boiler operator, substation operators and more.

Andrew Carter is a student studying in the seven month wind program.

He told 7 Action News, "One of my instructors said that Vestas, which is huge wind company, they’re wanting 3,000 employees next year."

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says employment of wind turbine technicians is projected to grow 44% from 2021 to 2031.

"We’ve been told that they really need workers," said Carter.

It's true.

The industry is exploding as America relies more heavily on electricity and attempts to transition to renewable energy.

"If everyone goes home and plugs in their EV, everyone else is gonna be out of power," explained Todd. "The grid’s gonna crash, we can’t handle it. I don’t know if they're really ready to admit that yet."

At a Friday press conference, DTE's CEO talked about how they plan to put $9 billion into the power grid.

Todd said, "It’s bad, literally at one point it was classified as the worst maintained machine on planet earth."

Bottom line, between these extreme weather events and a push for renewable energy, America needs electricians to keep our lights on.

The question is, will the workers be there?