Women Electricians Focus on Volunteer Labor
THE SISTERS IN SOLIDARITY (SIS) GROUP of IBEW Local
No. 292, Minneapolis, was formed in 2013. SIS is a mentoring
and support group for women electricians that focuses on
developing leadership in its community and union.
In late 2016, members of SIS and women electricians
representing IBEW Local No. 110 in St. Paul, Minn.,
Humanity home in the Twin Cities area. Typically, such homes
are built by members of the public who donate their time,
but they still must hire the skilled trades. Because the IBEW
women volunteered to do the electrical work, the project did
not need to pay electricians.
“We had 17 women on rough-in day,” said Jennifer
Gaspersich, business representative for IBEW Local No. 292 and
chairperson of its SIS group. “We have many reasons for wanting
to complete a large project like a Habitat home. Our mission
statement is ‘Empower women to be fully engaged members
of the IBEW and civil society.’ This Habitat home helps us give
back and be engaged.”
Another reason was to provide mentoring experiences for
newer SIS members.
“This project gives us the opportunity to [do] just that,” she
said. “Many of these women have never done residential wiring,
so this is a great learning experience.”
While the project was rewarding to the IBEW volunteers, it
was not without obstacles.
“The challenges have been the timelines,” she said. “Habitat
works at a volunteer’s pace. The majority of us are used to keeping
to deadlines. It’s a matter of being productive on work sites.”
Despite these challenges, Gaspersich and her colleagues
would like to engage in more volunteer work in the future,
including other Habitat homes. The group also currently does
volunteer work at two women’s shelters in the Minneapolis area.
“Here, we arrange the volunteer work,” she said. “The
contractor pulls the permits, and we meet with the inspectors
when the project is complete.”
SIS has upgraded the receptacles in the 7-by-10-foot shelter
bedrooms, since most of these rooms have multiple small
“We have also upgraded the lighting in the attic area that is
used for storage of new donated items,” she said. “We have also
done upgrades in the laundry facilities and kitchen areas.”
Corporate Money Flowing Into Energy Storage
ANYONE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE by
installing solar panels, buying an electric
car or changing out those old power-guzzling incandescent lamps. However,
the so-called tipping point often rests
on the shoulders of corporate America.
If the latest numbers are any
indication, corporations are tilting
the scales toward energy storage.
According to the U.S. Energy Storage
Monitor, released jointly in December
by GTM Research and the Energy
Storage Association (ESA), corporate
investment in energy storage is at
The December report, which measures
third-quarter activity for 2016, shows total
investments reached nearly $660 million.
This represents the combined total of
investment in venture funding and project
finance—five times the $131.6 million
in corporate investments for the same
quarter in the previous year. Separating
the two types of funding, the report finds
investment in project financing alone was
the largest for any quarter.
According to the report, the largest
announced deal in Q3 2016 was $300
million in project financing that
manufacturer Tabuchi Electric, San
Jose, Calif., received from the Electric
& Gas Industries Association. Advanced
Microgrid Solutions also closed a large
project financing deal worth $200 million
with Macquarie Capital.
The corporate investment numbers
were a bright spot in an otherwise
lackluster quarter for the industry.
According to the report, the United States
deployed 16. 4 megawatts (MW) of energy
storage overall, which was a 75 percent
drop from the same quarter last year.
The report mostly blames the
slowdown on a 96 percent drop-off from
the previous year in large utility-owned or
“front-of-the-meter” projects. It notes that
no such projects greater than 1 MW have
been brought online in over two years.
GTM and the ESA expect that
particular trend to be short-lived and are
optimistic about the long-term growth of
the industry overall. Their report projects
the U.S. energy-storage market to grow
from 226 MW in 2015 to 260 MW in 2016
and over 2.0 gigawatts by 2021, eight
times the size of 2016 market.