Greater Lawrence Tech, Green Jobs Academy Receive Gas Explosion Settlement for Clean Energy Training

Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera, second from left, with Gov. Charlie Baker and leaders from Andover and North Andover during a press conference in the wake of the September 2018 explosions and fires across the Merrimack Valley. (Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News.)

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Greater Lawrence Technical School and the Green Jobs Academy are sharing $1.25 million in grants from the Merrimack Valley Renewal Fund to help develop clean energy workforce development programs.

Money for the Merrimack Valley Renewal Fund comes from a settlement agreement with Columbia Gas for its role in the 2018 Merrimack Valley gas explosions. Grants are jointly administered currently by state Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell and Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Elizabeth Mahony for a variety of clean energy and energy efficiency programs.

Greater Lawrence Technical School’s Clean Energy Education Program Workshop Program will be incorporated into existing technical study programs and focus on clean energy careers in the technical area being studied, as well as additional clean energy topics such as greenhouse gas emissions impacts; programs to lower emissions; barriers to electrification and energy efficiency and methods to remove such barriers. It will enroll up to approximately 250 students annually, including adult learners and seniors enrolled in the school’s “After Dark” Program, which enrolls students who attend district schools during the regular school day and technical programs later in the day. A separate in-depth semester program will prepare students for entry-level clean energy jobs, enrolling up to 100 students annually.

Superintendent John Lavoie said he is grateful for the award which opens career opportunities for diverse students—both high schoolers and adults—in the clean energy industry.

Campbell said in a statement, “I, along with the team, remain in awe of the resiliency of Merrimack Valley residents, and we will continue to support them and organizations addressing the aftermath of the explosion, including funding vital jobs and workforce training opportunities as we transition to a clean economy.”

Mahony added, “It’s been inspiring to watch the Lawrence community come together in the wake of tragedy to build anew. Funding clean energy workforce development is a win-win: we need more workers powering this transition, and these are good paying jobs that will be an economic driver for communities like Lawrence.”

The South Middlesex Opportunity Council’s Green Jobs Academy and community partner, Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, will be able to recruit, train and support more individuals for in-demand careers in the weatherization and energy efficiency industry,” said Council President Susan Gentili.

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