Jobless oilsands workers look to alternative energy

A group of former oilsands workers wants to help laid-off colleagues get retraining in alternate energy sources.

'Iron and Earth' ask province to commit to solar energy, retrain workers

Edmonton trades workers look to renewable energy to help unemployed

7 years ago
Duration 1:19
Solar panel on public buildings is the goal of Iron and Earth, a group aiming to employ jobless oilsands workers.

A group of former oilsands workers is developing a plan to help laid-off colleagues get retraining in alternate energy sources.

The non-profit group, which bills itself as Iron and Earth, is holding a news conference in Edmonton Monday to ask the province and corporate sponsors to commit to 100 solar installations on public buildings.
Iron and Earth bills itself as group supporting the environment and oilfield trades people. (CBC)

They are also asking the government to re-train 1,000 oil and gas electricians as solar electricians in order to do that work over the next three years.

"We have the skills to build the renewable energy infrastructure required for Canada to meet their climate target," said executive director Lliam Hildebrand.

"That will open up a huge amount of opportunity for us if we can start diversifying our energy grid and it would ensure that we are less vulnerable to price fluctuations."

Hildebrand said the idea started percolating last spring as oil prices started to drop.

He said it is clear the province needs to diversify and finding alternate sources of energy is a good start.

Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said she asked her department to meet with Iron and Earth.

"We know that as we transition from coal to cleaner sources of power there will be new job opportunities in a more diversified energy economy," she said in a emailed statement.

"We are committed to balancing the development of clean and diversified energy with ensuring affordable rates for Alberta families and businesses."