“We can’t just retire the entire coal fleet and then expect the lights to still be on.”
Owners, contractors and guests convened for the Ohio Valley Tripartite conference Aug. 1-2 in Lexington, Kentucky. The event, which is the longest-running meeting of its kind, allows for attendees to hear updates from MOST Programs and the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program and discuss manpower projection allocation from local lodges.
Guest speaker Nathan Hyrne, Babcock & Wilcox Director of ClimateBright US-East, addressed the future of clean energy and the existing coal assets from which B&W grew its roots. He gave attendees background on what B&W is doing to slowly transition and shift into new sectors, and he outlined what the future of decarbonization might look like.
“We can’t just retire the entire coal fleet and then expect the lights to still be on,” he said.
He noted there’s a major shift towards the importance of having reliable waste-to-energy facilities, while the U.S. combats the abundance of feedstock in landfills nationwide.
“Waste energy plants used to be kind of a bad name and now they’re given a nice bump for their clean energy portfolio,” Hyrne said.
He emphasized that “you are reducing methane; you are doing a lot of good things for the environment to turn that waste fuel into a dispatchable power product.”
MOST Programs’ Bridget Connors spoke to business managers and agents about the MOST programs and the 2023 MOST National Tripartite Alliance conference. She gave an update on recent offerings, including the OSHA-500 training, field leadership train-the-trainer class and supplemental rigging train-the-trainer class. Connors also noted that the union reported more than 8.25 million man-hours as of the second quarter of 2023.
BNAP Coordinator Mark Wertz followed with an update on the Boilermakers National Apprenticeship Program. The topics he focused on included the learning management system and improvements slated for LMS 3.o and EPRI evaluation. He also stressed the importance of outreach through programs such as SkillsUSA, and the need to seek and take advantage of grant opportunities available for apprenticeship programs.
“Your state has grants. Nationals has grants. They’re giving out so much money right now it’s ridiculous. And if we don’t get it, guess what, someone else will—and they’re probably nonunion,” he said.