The power companies desperately need a jolt of youthful energy. The industry and the creaky distribution system it manages are on the cusp of a major technological overhaul just as about half of electric utility employees are expected to retire in the next 5 to 10 years.
Last spring, the energy secretary, Steven Chu, awarded $100 million in stimulus money to 54 training programs in the smart grid aimed at high school and college students around the country. “Building and operating smart grid infrastructure will put tens of thousands of Americans to work,” Mr. Chu said at the time. “Today’s investment will help ensure that we have the work force in place to meet this need.”
My great-grandfather, John Caldwell, arrived from Ireland in 1861, just in time to enlist in the Union Army, where he served in the Pennsylvania 61st with George and Herman Westinghouse. After the war, he joined the brothers in Pittsburgh, where George figured out AC current (and defeated Edison’s direct current) while Caldwell handled the financing.
My point is that a trio of young men managed all this without any help from the government. Modern day examples of this same triumph might be Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and, before them, Bill Hewitt and Dave Packard.
In fact, do you know a single example of our government promoting and jump starting a single industry, other than the welfare force and the Teachers Union? I don’t.