Tonya Hicks the first Woman Journeyman Wireman Electrician for the IBEW talks about Opportunities in the Growing Clean Energy EV Industry
New federal funding aims to ensure Black Georgians have equal access to the state's growing electric transportation sector. The three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will focus on Albany, Atlanta, and Savannah. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy will work with local organizations such as Clean Cities Georgia to research community needs and find solutions. The EV revolution has the potential for small business opportunities, job creation and education for African American community. I reached out to Tonya Hicks, founder and owner of Power Solutions Electrical Contracting. Ms. Hicks is among the 3% of female electricians in the United States. She is the first woman Journeyman Wireman in the Local 917 of the IBEW and so much more.
Before going to electrical vehicles I ask Hicks how she became the first woman Journeyman Wireman in the IBEW, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. She speaks about being a college student at Central State University and working on a degree in mathematics. She was considering a career in Math Education or Computer IT when she was exposed to the work of electricians. Power and wiring had much more complex systems and the Journeyman Wireman worked with the really big systems.
Hicks also explains that she was paid to complete the 8000 hours of work needed. Although many people don’t know this, throughout the 5-year apprenticeship she was not only paid, but a representative of the Department of Labor which funds the programs checked on her routinely to make sure she was being treated fairly. Women and minorities have often been kept out of these positions which requires a much higher skill in the trade. Only 2% of electricians are women and 8% are African American.
When asked why she decided to go all the way to Wireman Electrician she spoke about joining a long line of hidden figures who stepped up and stepped out.
Hicks shares that the EV industry and her companies foray to provide ShEV charging stations that are in safe places. For some reason most charging stations are located in areas behind buildings which are not safe for seniors or women. Her stations will be located in well-lit areas. Hicks shares that the federal government’s policy is that 40% of funding will benefit underserved communities. These are the same communities with higher pollution levels. The Clean Energy Workforce is made up of over 3 million workers with only 6% African-Americans.
This is a growing industry with more consumers everyday, hopefully our community will be able to grow with this industry.