Xcel, CEE, and partners empower next generation of energy efficiency workers

Feb 11, 2022
Press Release

In collaboration with program provider Xcel Energy and several community partners, Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) announces the kick-off of a new home energy career training program. Delivered by Twin Cities nonprofit CEE, Xcel Energy’s Workforce Development program aims to recruit, train, and permanently place participants who are historically underrepresented in the energy efficiency sector, specifically people of color and women.

Registration deadline is March 14.

To help reach ideal candidates, the program is partnering with social service nonprofits Hmong American Partnership, MIGIZI, Urban Roots, EMERGE, and CAPI. CAPI was recently awarded a grant from the City of Minneapolis Employment & Training’s Green Industry Pathways program to help support capacity for recruitment. “We connect immigrants, refugees, and U.S.-born persons of color with the resources they need to thrive,” explained Dawn Wambeke, CAPI's director of economic empowerment. “Empowering people for job opportunities and economic independence is a crucial part of that journey.”

In 2020, more than 55,000 Minnesotans worked in clean energy and about 75% of those jobs were in energy efficiency, our biggest clean energy employment sector. In addition to construction, green jobs run the gamut from energy efficiency auditors to heating/AC technicians, weatherization specialists, and electricians. As our state’s economy scrambled for a new normal amid COVID-related challenges, clean energy jobs grew about 10% in the second half of 2020, twice as fast as overall job growth.

But within that resilient and growing sector, people of color represent just 28% and women represent about 27% of the state’s clean energy workforce (Clean Energy Economy MN, 2021). At the same time, Minnesota’s State Demographic Center predicts that the state’s majority white population will level off and decrease within 10 years, and people of color will exceed one-third of the total population by the early 2050s.

“Energy efficiency helps people save energy and money, while reducing carbon emissions in our communities,” said John Marshall, regional vice president, community relations and foundation, Xcel Energy. “We are proud to support this important program that will connect people who need great jobs with a thriving field that needs great workers.”

Paid training

In close collaboration with CEE, Xcel Energy created the workforce training program to train and ultimately place in permanent jobs people who identify as women and BIPOC, especially those who live in areas of high concentrated poverty in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The collaborative set out to design a curriculum that is responsive to the needs of employers and of partner organizations, daylighting multiple pathways to green careers.

“Participants in the initial five-week training program will receive $2,500 and earn certification in Building Science Principles,” said Cheng Vang, CEE’s workforce training manager. “In addition to the training stipend, the program offers participants basic support services such as public transit passes and gas cards.” Developed by Vang and others, training curriculum will cover the basics of building science and home energy audits, insulation, and air sealing; installation training from experts; relevant job-site safety guidelines; and math for construction. After the first five weeks, participants can move into longer paid internships with additional certifications and permanent job placement assistance.

Qualified applicants are encouraged to sign up by March 14.

Applicants must be 18 or older and legally authorized to work in the U.S., with 5th-grade level reading and math, and basic computer navigation skills. Selections will prioritize residents in St. Paul’s ACP50 neighborhoods Thomas-Dale, Rondo, North End, Payne-Phalen, Greater East Side, Dayton’s Bluff, West Side, and Downtown; Minneapolis Green Zone neighborhoods Bottineau, Cedar-Riverside, East Phillips, Marshall Terrace, Hawthorne, McKinley, Midtown Phillips, Near North, Phillips West, Sheridan, and Ventura Village; and anyone who is Black, Indigenous, American Indian, Asian, Latino, or a person of color. 

Paid internships, permanent jobs

After successfully completing initial training, participants will have opportunities to move on to five-month paid internships focused on home energy auditing or home insulation and air sealing. Internships pay $16.50 per hour with health and dental benefits, as well as permanent job placement assistance. Depending on their chosen track, interns will be able to earn either Building Analyst certification or Air Leakage Control Installer certification from the Building Performance Institute.

In future years, CEE hopes to explore extending trainings to more career pathways such as advanced HVAC and electrical trades. “Ultimately,” explained Vang, “we hope to create multiple career pathways for unemployed and underemployed people living in historically underrepresented communities.”


Center for Energy and Environment is a 501(c)(3) clean energy nonprofit with special expertise in energy efficiency that stretches back 40 years. Complementary areas of focus include independent technical research, program development and implementation, community engagement, policy advocacy, and project financing. Working across homes, businesses, and communities, CEE discovers and deploys the most effective energy solutions to strengthen our economy and improve our environment.


Xcel Energy (NASDAQ: XEL) provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Headquartered in Minneapolis, the company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices. For more information, visit xcelenergy.com or follow us on Twitter and Facebook


Tim Hanrahan | 612-244-2419 | thanrahan@mncee.org

Related Links

Xcel Energy's Workforce Development program

Xcel Energy

Hmong American Partnership


Urban Roots