I want to thank the Energy Futures Initiative and National Association of State Energy Office for their help with this critical report. We are here because we know the energy sector is the third largest in the United States and is continuing to grow. We know that there are ever increasing technologies that are related to both renewables and energy efficiency that make our cars, our homes, our buildings, and even us, smarter and it all drives down costs to both consumers and businesses.
So that is a great phenomenon, but it is also happening at the same time as another phenomenon and that is an aging energy workforce. The average age of a utility worker is 47 years old and about 47% of all transmission distribution workers will be eligible to retire in the next several years. We know that we need to train and skill the next generation of energy workers. Our nation is embarking on one of the greatest economic opportunities, and that is a clean, efficient energy economy. I can tell you, as someone who comes from a state that has produced three to four cents per kilowatt hour rates; it continues to drive our economy over and over again.
At the opening of our National Nordic Museum in Ballard, Washington, attended by the President of Iceland, I said, “who would have thought that you and I would be sitting here talking about Bitcoin lending and taxation for the state of Washington and Iceland?” We can compete for low prices, so we both have been taken over by that sector.
Consumers and businesses, we know, will demand new services and new technologies along with low carbon solutions. I can’t tell you how much this is playing out in the state of Washington where every company, whether it’s Microsoft or Amazon or Google, is looking to distinguish themselves with the energy mix that they purchase. To say to their consumers that their portfolio is made up of no or low carbon energy solutions.
We want to continue ensuring the United States is a leader in developing these [energy] technologies and in training a workforce that will help us deliver on them. One of the sectors examined by the U.S. Energy and Employment Report is energy efficiency, which already employs millions of Americans and is predicated to grow.