By COLIN STAUB
Running 273 pages long, there are a lot of specifics in the Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law Aug. 16. On Aug. 18, U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) visited Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. to highlight the importance of one of those specifics—a requirement that clean energy projects that receive tax credits provide opportunities for apprentices.
Bonamici was one of 220 Democrats to vote for the bill, which passed entirely on party lines. Previously known as the Build Back Better act, the bill was scaled back substantially by the time it passed, and renamed the Inflation Reduction Act.
The bill provides up to $40 billion in tax credits for clean energy projects like solar and wind facilities. To take full advantage of the credits, projects must must employ apprentices for a percentage of the total project labor. The percentage is 10% for the rest of 2022, increasing to 12.5% through 2023 and 15% in 2024. The bill also requires that contractors pay prevailing wage for these projects.
Bonamici serves on the House Education and Labor Committee, and she’s become an advocate for the apprenticeship model of job training.
Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. recruits and prepares women to enter the construction trades.
Touring the group’s East Portland training center, Bonamici talked up the value of apprenticeship.
“For a long time, we sort of expected that everybody was on the same path, and we know that’s not the case,” Bonamici said. It’s important to provide pathways to a good job for everyone, Bonamici said, “whether they decide to go to an apprenticeship, or a community college, or a college.”
The Inflation Reduction Act is the latest in a series of federal investments in infrastructure, Bonamici added, following last year’s massive infrastructure bill and the more recent CHIPS and Science Act, which invests in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing plants. The common theme, she said: huge demand for trades workers.