Coal

Energy Conservation Jobs Come to Coal Country

Energy Conservation Jobs Come to Coal Country <truthout.org/articles/energy-conservation-jobs-come-to-coal-country/> [image: A bulldozer operates atop a coal mound at the CCI Energy Slones Branch Terminal June 3, 2014, in Shelbiana, Kentucky.]A bulldozer operates atop a coal mound at the CCI Energy Slones Branch Terminal June 3, 2014, in Shelbiana, Kentucky.LUKE SHARRETT / GETTY IMAGES BYMason Adams <truthout.org/authors/mason-adams/>YES! Magazine <www.yesmagazine.org/planet/energy-conservation-jobs-come-to-coal-country-20181005> PUBLISHEDOctober 6, 2018 Like many men raised in eastern Kentucky, Frank Morris spent a chunk of his working life in the coal industry.
Raised in the city of Hazard, Morris did a little bit of everything, from shoveling belt to diesel mechanics.
“Back then, if you were going to pick to live around here and make good money, you either went into the coal business or you went into the medical field,” Morris said.
Like many others, however, Morris was laid off several years ago when the coal industry started contracting. Metallurgical coal, used for making steel, was waning as part of a regular global cycle, and steam coal, used to produce electricity, suffered a long-term decline as power utilities increasingly moved toward cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable wind and solar energy.
Morris found a job at Walmart, but given the cost of child care, he realized he was actually losing money by working there. He tried being a stay-at-home dad, but he found himself yearning to contribute to his family’s financial well-being in a more tangible way, so he started taking small carpentry jobs. Morris had been doing that for a while when he heard about an internship for former coal miners.
The six-month internship with Mountain Association for Community Economic Development offered training in new energy efficiency professions, placement with a local employer, and the potential for longer-term employment after the job ended. Morris applied for the internship and was accepted, along with another ex-miner named Randall Howard. The two received hands-on training in conducting energy audits—learning how to use equipment such as infrared cameras, duct blasters, blower doors, and much more—and went to work at their respective jobs, Morris for the nonprofit Housing Development Alliance and Howard for Christian Outreach with Appalachian People, an affordable housing organization.
Today “things are a lot better for us,” Morris said. “We’re in a better position financially and with our home lives. I’m able to be home every day, most days, before 5 o’clock. That’s something I’ve never had before in my life.”

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