Spring Ahead with WeatherBug
This op-ed was published in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette on April 28.
At a handful of schools across the Massachusetts commonwealth, there are children who are getting excited about WeatherBug, technology that helps forecasters better plot the paths of storms, and helps us prepare for quicker service restoration.
I’m not ashamed to disclose our selfish motivations for joining the WeatherBug partnership, through which we’ve installed nearly two dozen weather stations on schools, fire stations and municipal buildings in Massachusetts.
The elementary-school students who are gazing with wonderment at these devices will be the same adults who’ll be inventing the technology of the future. I hope that they will take their curiosity to National Grid, joining our ranks as engineers on the cutting edge of the innovation needed to solve the country’s energy and environmental challenges.
We celebrated Earth Day in April, but protecting our environment and creating a sustainable future requires far more than one day a year of cleanups and spreading awareness. Though Earth Day provides wonderful opportunities to beautify our communities, every day is a time to consider what we can do as a society, year-round, to preserve and enhance our environment. Planting the seeds for the next generation’s energy workforce is crucial to this long-term plan.
Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders. Through partnerships with organizations including Girls Inc., City Year, and FIRST Robotics, we’re working to inspire students, of every background, to pursue STEM careers with National Grid.
There will be no shortage of need for these professionals. Last week, the White House released its quadrennial energy review, which includes an agenda for modernizing our energy infrastructure to promote economic competitiveness, energy security and environmental responsibility. Cited in this first-ever review is the dramatically changing energy landscape. The focus of U.S. energy policy discussions has shifted from worries about oil and natural gas imports to debates about concerns for safety and resilience, integrating renewable sources of energy, and the overriding question of how our country can do its part in meeting the global climate-change challenge.
National Grid has signed on to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Partnership for Energy Sector Climate Resilience, along with 16 other utilities to help improve infrastructure resilience against extreme weather and climate change.
The future energy workforce will need to integrate solar, energy efficiency, natural gas, and smart technologies, improving performance, promoting economic and environmental health, and lowering costs. Incorporating energy education into curriculums now will help accelerate this transition, and inspire great young minds to help us solve our current challenge of smartly integrating clean energy at a reasonable cost.
Strong STEM education and getting young adults excited about energy-related job opportunities are key to meeting these environmental and economic challenges. We at National Grid are committed to nurturing and supporting our clean-energy workforce. Several Worcester Tech students have already joined our Engineering Pipeline — a program for high school juniors who want to be engineers — and many more visit our training facility in Millbury every year.
I was proud to learn that one of our Sustainability Hub smart energy ambassadors (a Clark University student and a Worcester public schools graduate) delivered an inspiring address on climate change last month at the Worcester Model United Nations conference.
Economic progress and environmental goals are not mutually exclusive. In 2014, for the first time in 40 years, the economy grew but carbon emissions didn’t. This bodes well for this Earth Day and every one after it. National Grid’s Connect21 strategy — our efforts to modernize our networks so we can provide customers with the choices, reliability, affordability, and cleaner energy they expect and deserve — is so closely tied to a strong economy that is bolstered by a passionate, educated workforce.
I know I’ve already met some of these future leaders. Maybe some of the students in Petersham who have WeatherBug stations on their schools will join us at National Grid in a few years as engineers and planners. Perhaps some of the FIRST Robotics students who competed at a competition we sponsored at WPI this month will have a hand in grid modernization, as we work toward the state’s goals of providing our customers more options, choice and control, and cleaner energy.
So, while we reflect on another successful Earth Day, let’s not simply think of the event as a time to plant flowers and trees. Budding young minds are central to creating a sustainable energy future for the commonwealth, and (unlike energy consumption), I can’t wait to see how they grow.
Read more articles and learn more here: http://us.nationalgridconnecting.com/spring-ahead-with-weatherbug/