IBEW 1 powers up with training for electric car charging station installs

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POWERING UP at the Electrical Industry Training Center’s new car charging station are Bob Unterreiner, president of Schneider Electric – which installed the car charger – training center Director Dennis Gralike, Schneider Electric Vice President Mike Picker and IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs. Labor Tribune photo
POWERING UP at the Electrical Industry Training Center’s new car charging station are Bob Unterreiner, president of Schneider Electric – which installed the car charger – training center Director Dennis Gralike, Schneider Electric Vice President Mike Picker and IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs.
Labor Tribune photo

By TIM ROWDEN

Associate Editor

St. Louis – IBEW Local 1 and the St. Louis National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) have been training union electricians on the infrastructure needed to support electrical cars for about four years, but is wasn’t until recently that the St. Louis training center got a car charger of its own.

It was installed by Schneider Electric near the entrance to the Electrical Industry Training Center at 2300 Hampton Ave.

Tim Kelley, superintendent of related instruction at the training center, had his own Chevy Volt plugged into the station shortly after it was installed.

Kelley said the charging station will be incorporated into the training center’s curriculum

“It will be used to demonstrate the interconnections between the electrical distribution systems and the care charger and how to calculate the relationships between the charger and our electrical distribution system,” Kelley said.

UNIQUE TRAINING PROGRAM

The training center’s electrical car training program is the only one of its kind locally.

It’s designed to train Local 1 members in the skills needed to install charging stations for the growing number of electric vehicles on the road.

Local 1 and St. Louis NECA chapter actually took the lead nationally last year by helping to develop a national curriculum for EVITP – Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program.

The St. Louis training center is operated by the Electrical Connection, a Local 1 and NECA partnership. It is currently the only training center in St. Louis that offers EVITP certification for installers of Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE), such as fixed EV charging stations.

To date, more than 270 IBEW electricians and 27 NECA contractors have completed EVITP course curriculum on installation, including instruction in the recent safety requirements included in the National Electrical Code.

GROWING DEMAND

Demand for electric cars and car charging stations has been growing, though not at the pace that had been anticipated.

“President Obama wanted to see one million electric vehicles on the street by 2015,” said Dennis Gralike, director of the training center. “We’re at about half that now.”

Gralike said demand will likely continue to grow as the infrastructure to support the electric cars becomes more readily available.  Currently, charging stations can be found at corporate office parks, retail stores and cinemas They are also going in on parking lots and at highway rest areas.

“It’s not only economically feasible to use, but it’s environmentally beneficial to our communities,” Gralike said.

One growing area of demand, Gralike said is in new residential construction, as many new homes are including charging stations in the garage. Gralike said the training center anticipates 70 percent of charging station installations will be in new homes.

“You’re going to see more and more electric vehicles on the street, and people are going to be looking for that when they look for a new home,” Gralike said.

BIRTHPLACE FOR TRAINING

The St. Louis training center was the birthplace of electrical apprenticeship training when then newly mandated national apprenticeship standards were established in 1941 and has adapted to serve evolving energy and communication needs ever since.

In addition to new energy needs, like car charging stations, the training center also ensures IBEW electricians continually upgrade their skills in traditional energy needs, including coal-fired and nuclear power plants as well as industrial, commercial and residential electrical installations.

For more than 70 years, the training center has supplied St. Louis and Eastern Missouri with the vast majority of its licensed electricians and communication technicians – approximately 10,000 to date.

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