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Colorado is allocating millions of dollars into incentives to help buy used and new electric vehicles and solar pumps. However, all its electric goals might be a problem due to an insufficient number of electricians.

EV charger installations and other appliances are key to combating climate change. Nevertheless, electrical contractors in Colorado are facing backlogs for these projects because of strapped manpower. The state is focused on cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% come 2030. Therefore, to help combat the problem of lack of enough manpower as well as ensure Colorado’s goal is achieved, companies are raising wages to attract new electrcians and retain skilled ones who are already in the field. But, even with this, there is still a concern that it may not be enough to keep up with the demand.

Skye Houseman, the owner of an electrical company in Crested Butte, says there is a shortage of manpower, which might make all the electric goals of Colorado a problem. Crested Butte is attracting a lot of interest since it is the first municipality in Colorado to go all electric. The small mountain town is punching above its waist by having new homes and construction buildings powered by electricity; it is moving from relying on natural gas for heating, appliances, or hot water. Houseman says requests for an EV charger were few not so long ago; hence, its team of 10 electricians was able to handle them without a problem. However, that has since changed because his team is now handling at least an EV charger every two weeks.

Joe Montoya, vice president of residential and a co-owner of Front Range, is booking residential solar installments for Denver and Boulder-based Namaste Solar. According to Montoya, there is a rise in demand for solar panels because more people are trying to cut their electric bills by replacing their natural-gas boilers with other eco-friendly upgrades like heat pumps that move air between the inside and outside of a home. Montoya’s company has come up with ways to lure new electrcians, and these include starting a training program and investing a lot of money into educational test prep and courses. According to Montoya, growing faster would enable them to reduce backlog faster.

Montoya sees the low number of electricians as a historical challenge that needs to be overcome so its company can meet the constantly growing demand for Coloradans. As seen throughout this post, the lack of enough electricians goes deeper and is part of a national labor shortage, which some industry experts expect to go up as incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act, a federal law, kicks in. Colorado has also promised to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in rebates for appliances that run on clean energy, and this also will lead to strapped manpower. Data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment shows that the number of electricians employed in Colorado was approximately 19,762 in 2021. Over the next decade, the electrician occupation is projected to grow by 21.5%, which is faster compared to the average occupation growth rate of 14.8%.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has over 710,000 people working as electricians across the U.S., and over the next decade, this number is projected to grow by 7% nationally. The number of solar photovoltaic installers in Colorado is worth talking about too since they also contribute to the state’s electric goals. Solar photovoltaic installers are individuals who assemble or install solar panels. The department ranks them as the number one fastest-growing occupation, with the number expected to move from 160 as per 2021 data to 274 by 2031. Going by all these, Colorado’s electric goals might take a stumble for now. However, that is not expected to be the case in the next decade.