Preparing Pennsylvania’s Workforce to Make the Most of American Energy

The stable price of natural gas, driven by its abundance right here in America, is helping manufacturers in steel, plastics and chemical sectors revitalize their workforces. The proposed ethylene cracker plant planned for Beaver County is a prime example of how abundant Pennsylvania natural gas will bring new manufacturing and petrochemical jobs to our region and country. On the national level, a December 2011 analysis by PwC looked at how shale gas resources can help U.S. manufacturing. PwC’s analysis suggests shale gas could lead to an increase in manufacturing employment of some one million workers by 2025.
In transportation, natural gas vehicles (NGVs) have proven economically and environmentally beneficial to cities and companies throughout the United States–and right here in Pennsylvania. Ranging from local transit agencies like Centre Area Transportation Authority, to Pennsylvania companies including Giant Eagle, to schools like Temple; the growing NGV trend means the outlook for new opportunities in the transportation sector are plentiful. Such “clean energy transportation careers” range from management positions to creative design. They include automotive business managers, service technicians, fleet managers, refueling station designers and managers, and many more.

In the area of power generation, the Energy Information Administration estimates that 250 gigawatts of new generating capacity will be needed between 2008 and 2035 to meet our nation’s growing demand for electricity. To put that in perspective: A typical gas or coal power plant has a capacity of less than one gigawatt.

Creating that much new generating capacity means new power generation and related construction jobs. We’re already seeing these new power generation-related job opportunities in Pennsylvania.

In October, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approved an air quality plan for Moxie Energy to move forward with a natural gas-fired power plant in Bradford County. According to DEP, this plant will generate up to 936 megawatts of electricity. Construction of the plant will create 500 jobs at its peak, with an average of 200 workers. About 30 permanent, highly paid technical jobs will be available once construction is complete.

This is just a snapshot of the kinds of jobs that are increasingly becoming available, thanks to abundant natural gas reserves.

The natural gas industry values working with the education and training community. Together, we’re developing a workforce that is safely and responsibly developing natural gas. And, as we look to the future, we look forward to continuing that relationship to prepare an American workforce to make the most of American energy.

The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Susquehanna Valley Center.

Guest Columnist Mike Killion is Manager of Government Affiars at EQT Corporation.