Brightening opportunities for "green jobs"
(By Kirk Mitchell via The Denver Post)
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet met Saturday with trainees and future business entrepreneurs who hope to reshape their lives in the expanding renewable-energy field.
They are among as many as 6,000 Colorado residents who will get new "green jobs" directly or indirectly because of the $80 million that Colorado will get through the federal economic recovery act, Bennet said.
"We can give them a different kind of future," he said. "You can't export these jobs. It will also reduce our reliance on foreign oil."
Lesa Theaman is among people learning to install solar panels along with other renewable-energy skills at Mi Casa Resource Center at 360 Acoma St.
Theaman said after a felony drug conviction, the free training at Mi Casa helped her find hope for the future.
"I've turned my life around," she said. "I wanted something better for myself."
Theaman, who is applying for an electrician's apprenticeship program, showed Bennet two solar panels used in a Mi Casa class. She said with 20 such panels, someone could light and heat their home.
"I think it's phenomenal what we could do with solar power," she said. "Having 300 days of sunshine a year is huge for solar."
Jack Dorwart, executive director of nonprofit Sun Power, said his company is one of eight in Colorado that will receive part of Colorado's portion of the federal money to expand winterizing services to needy people.
In turn, he will hire Mi Casa trainees and other workers while more than doubling the number of families his company serves — from 525 to up to 1,300 a year.
Sun Power insulates homes and installs energy-efficient furnaces and water heaters for free to qualified applicants. Improvements can cut energy costs in half, he said.
But some people in the Mi Casa program said they are being denied federal funds to start new energy businesses because of government red tape and contradictory rules.
Bennet vowed to investigate why that is happening and see if there is a way of getting the money to people who are trying to start new businesses after getting laid off.
Christine Marquez-Hudson, executive director of Mi Casa, said her agency began offering renewable-energy training after learning that many new jobs would be created nationally because of expanded emphasis in the field. For the very latest in green jobs from around the world please click here