Here in the US, labor unions have joined the fight for clean energy and climate solutions. The article below, cross-posted from the AFL-CIO blog, explains how union members took the initiative to push for solar on the Illinois Governor's Mansion on 10/10/10 and installed the array just a few short weeks later.

by James Parks, Nov 5, 2010

  Rich Marsaglia, solar project manager, left, and journeymen inside wiremen Doug Harvey and Albert Waldon stand behind the solar array they installed on the roof of the Illinois governor’s mansion.  

When Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn decided to put solar panels on the roof of the governor’s mansion in Springfield, the state turned to the Electrical Workers (IBEW) to handle the job.

David Burns, business manager of Electrical Workers Local 193 in Springfield, Ill., contacted Rich Marsaglia, a 15-year IBEW member and solar project manager for a Haenig Electric, a local company, whose owners agreed to donate the labor to install the panels.

The project kicked off Oct. 10 as part of the 10/10/10 Global Work Party. The Global Work Party, a day of action to fight climate change, includes more than 7,000 events in 183 different countries to help find solutions to climate change.

A few weeks later, Local 193 journeymen inside wiremen Doug Harvey and Albert Waldon completed the project. 

It is estimated that the new, one kilowatt solar array will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 tons of carbon dioxide over the next 25 years, the equivalent to about 100,000 car miles or the planting of 1,100 trees.

Quinn said of his decision to install the panels:

We must do everything we can to increase our use of solar energy, which will help us protect natural resources and reduce our reliance on traditional energy sources.

Says IBEW President Edwin Hill:

It’s satisfying to see Local 193 and Haenig Electric proving that it doesn’t always take a  huge project to generate the kind of good will and positive marketing that can bring some big returns back to both the IBEW and our signatory contractors over time.

The Illinois project followed, by just a few days, President Obama’s announcement that solar panels will be installed again on top of the White House. The solar panels will be installed by spring 2011 and will heat water for the first family and supply some electricity.

Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. President Ronald Reagan had those panels removed in 1986. Bush’s solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool.

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