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Group of oilsands workers looking to future beyond carbon fuels

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Group of oilsands workers looking to future beyond carbon fuels

It’s a group for oilsands workers, by oilsands workers.

Iron & Earth launched publicly Monday, revealing their plan to help re-train those working in the oilsands. To do what, exactly?

“We’re committed to catalysing the renewable energy industry in Canada,” says Co-Founder Lliam Hildebrand. “We believe our skills are transferable from oil and gas to renewables, and want to see growth in that sector to create more jobs.”

Hildebrand himself is a decade-long member of the boiler-makers’ union, having worked both as a journeyman welder and steel fabricator. He has experience both in the oilsands and renewable sectors.

The organization was started by Hildebrand and a group of colleagues while working at Nexen’s Long Lake facility last spring. They watched as oil prices fell and their friends lost jobs due to lower levels of new construction, before realizing that there could be new opportunities in renewables construction.

“We all very much appreciate the jobs that we have in the oilsands,” he said. “But we feel like we can begin incorporating renewable energy projects into our work scope.”

Iron & Earth’s first goal is to re-train 1,000 electrical workers to build and place 100 solar units on public buildings across the province. Hildebrand said there’s already been interest from the province in supporting the project, with a few MLAs attending their launch event in Edmonton. He added that he’s received support from fellow oilsands workers, and the group already has 50 members on its first day.

“We’re building a community of oilsands workers who understand that we can transition,” he said.

Another goal of Iron & Earth is to collaborate with research in the province to ensure that there will be jobs available to those who choose to re-train. You can find out more about the group by clicking here.

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