CenterPoint Energy celebrates investments in skilled workforce development to support Minnesota’s climate goals


CenterPoint Energy celebrated the culmination of its two-year program to invest in Minnesota’s workforce development with an Energy Workforce Development Symposium on Jan. 10, 2024, at Hennepin Technical College in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. CenterPoint Energy awarded $2.5 million in grants to local technical colleges and community nonprofit organizations to help build a diverse and skilled talent pipeline to support the state’s energy efficiency goals and provide Minnesotans access to good-paying careers.

The Energy Efficiency Workforce Development Symposium highlighted the programs created or expanded by the grant recipients. Each grant recipient is increasing the number of trained professionals with energy efficiency expertise entering the workforce and providing pathways to quality careers for people from historically under-represented groups.

“For nearly 30 years, CenterPoint Energy has helped our customers participate in energy efficiency programs to save money and reduce their impact on the environment,” said Christe Singleton, CenterPoint Energy’s Vice President of Minnesota Gas. “We understand how essential it is to build a highly trained and diverse workforce that can support Minnesota’s climate goals, while providing valuable and impactful careers.”

In his keynote address during the symposium, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Commissioner Matt Varilek highlighted the value of providing pathways for workforce development and the labor needed to support Minnesota’s economy.

“As Minnesota moves to create a cleaner, more efficient energy sector, more Minnesotans are going to find out how lucrative and rewarding a career in energy efficiency can be,” said DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek. “We’re grateful to CenterPoint Energy and its partners for helping to get more Minnesotans onto this important career path, especially groups historically underrepresented in the workforce.”

Energy efficiency is involved in a wide range of family-supporting career opportunities, including construction; energy auditing; weatherization/air sealing/insulation; and the installation and maintenance of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC-R) equipment.

Energy efficiency programs offered by CenterPoint Energy have helped customers reduce emissions by 15.2 million metric tons, the equivalent of removing nearly 2.6 million cars from the road each year and saving more than $2.1 billion.

Investments in this workforce development program were approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in 2022.

After a competitive process, CenterPoint Energy awarded grants to the following eight technical colleges and community nonprofit organizations:

Avivo (avivomn.org)

A nonprofit leader in workforce development and behavioral health for 60 years, Avivo helps more than 11,000 individuals annually overcome significant barriers and achieve economic stability and advancement. In partnership with the Regional Apprenticeship Training Center in north Minneapolis, Avivo will offer career-track training programs in HVAC-R Technician and Facilities Maintenance Engineering.

Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) (mncee.org)

CEE is a clean energy nonprofit with special expertise in energy efficiency that stretches back nearly 40 years. Along with community partners, CEE will expand its residential energy efficiency training, internship and job placement program, with a focus on areas of concentrated poverty in suburban Hennepin County.

Dunwoody College of Technology (dunwoody.edu)

For more than 100 years, Dunwoody has trained and educated the future workforce for technical careers and applied trades. Dunwoody will provide scholarship support for students in its new Pathways to Careers program, which is designed to attract, train and graduate underserved and underrepresented populations.

Hennepin Technical College (hennepintech.edu)

Hennepin Technical College is one of the most diverse colleges in Minnesota and offers the largest HVAC-R program in the state. The College will expand the residential HVAC-R program at its Brooklyn Park campus, including acquisition of equipment for a new lab space. The College will also upgrade equipment for the HVAC-R program at its Eden Prairie campus and develop a new curriculum on automated energy management systems for commercial buildings.

Minneapolis Regional Chamber Development Foundation (mplschamber.com/foundation)

The Foundation supports the Elevate Futures initiative, including a digital platform to connect educators, employers, students and jobseekers to career exploration and job opportunities. The Foundation will develop a Careers in Energy learning module for the platform to provide information and insights into career pathways in energy efficiency.

ServeMinnesota (serveminnesota.org)

ServeMinnesota oversees all AmeriCorps service programs in Minnesota. It will expand recruitment of low-income and racially diverse individuals for one year of service as Home Energy AmeriCorps members. Each individual will be matched with an energy professional from a local Community Action Program agency to gain training, coaching and work experience in the Weatherization Assistance Program as a gateway to career opportunities in the energy sector.

StudiOne-Eighty (studio-180.org)

StudiOne-Eighty is a nonprofit organization located in south Minneapolis that operates Lake Street Works, a two-year construction skills, personal development and financial literacy training program for low-income, racially diverse 11th and 12th grade high school students. StudiOne-Eighty will remodel its building, including energy-efficient equipment, to support the Lake Street Works program.

Summit Academy OIC (saoic.org)

Summit is a nonprofit, accredited adult education center and workforce development agency with nearly 50 years of experience helping residents of the Twin Cities poorest neighborhoods acquire the skills, education and networks to obtain family-sustaining employment. Summit will develop and integrate an energy efficiency curriculum, including new equipment, into its 20-week construction training program.

For more information on this grant program, visit: CenterPointEnergy.com/Connections.