IUOE Local 825
What is your organization’s role in the clean energy space?
“As a union of 8,000 heavy equipment operators in New Jersey and five counties of New York state, we have a significant involvement in the clean energy space. We build and maintain every type of energy project, from utility-scale solar projects on down to smaller projects. We are supporting the construction of New Jersey’s wind port in Salem County and we’re looking forward to constructing the offshore wind farms.“
How does your organization promote and enable greater energy efficiency and sustainability?
“Energy construction affects our job opportunities and our economic livelihood, so we advocate for good energy projects, just as we advocated for energy projects in the past. Not only because they add good jobs for our members, but because they provide a positive economic impact for the community where the construction takes place.“
What are the biggest challenges New Jersey faces today in its efforts to transition from oil and gas to renewable energy?
“One of the biggest challenges to transitioning to renewable energy by a certain deadline is understanding the reality that we live in. It is one thing to have bold goals, but we want our goals to be responsibly attainable.
The regulatory process itself may pose an obstacle to timely implementation of our goals. Beyond that, we will still need a responsible energy mix until we reach that goal. That includes natural gas infrastructure and other forms of energy, possibly micronuclear projects or even hydrogen, if they can help meet energy demands while we build toward complete reliance on renewables.”
How do your organization’s efforts play into economic and environmental advancements?
“We must have the energy to run the economy as we strive to attain our goals. In manufacturing, almost half the cost of siting a manufacturing plant is the cost of energy. So, we have to keep energy costs down to continue attracting business and keeping plants working efficiently.”
What do you see as New Jersey’s biggest long-term obstacles to getting to net zero by 2050?
“To get to net zero by 2050 means that other technologies have to be allowed to mature. Currently, there are no established timelines for when these technologies — like micronuclear plants mentioned previously — may mature.
Long-term, a big obstacle is the refusal on the part of many to allow any compromise along the way that would help us achieve our goals. On both sides of the argument, there are too many all-or-nothing proponents that create barriers to moving forward. People may not like to compromise, but that is what it will take to achieve progress.”