Employer advice from the Low Impact Hydropower Institute

Low Impact Hydropower Institute

Today’s employer advice is from Shannon Ames, Executive Director at the Low Impact Hydropower Institute.

Q: Tell us about your organization.

The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to reducing the impacts of hydropower generation through the certification of hydropower projects that have avoided or reduced their environmental impacts pursuant to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute’s criteria.

There are thousands of hydropower dams in the United States located on many of our most important rivers and streams. These dams can create pollution-free energy, but they can also produce significant adverse impacts on fish and wildlife and other resources.

LIHI’s mission is to reduce the impacts of hydropower dams through incentives. LIHI does this through its Hydropower Certification Program, a voluntary certification program designed to help recognize hydropower dams that are minimizing their environmental impacts. Just as an organic label can help consumers choose the foods and farming practices they want to support, the LIHI certification program can help energy consumers choose the energy and hydropower practices they want to support.

Q: What advice would you give to people in midlife who want to transition to a green job?

Increasingly green jobs are with companies that value the health of the planet and are facing increasing pressure to address worker conditions. Being aware of these trends, offering something to further a company’s goals, and expressing alignment with those goals is important. Those of us who have reached midlife have plenty of skills and experience that will translate effectively to the green economy but it is our job to clearly explain it. We need to draw the line between what we have done and why that will make us effective in a new job.

Q: What are the skills that you believe will be required most in the short-medium term in your industry?

The hydropower industry specifically is facing a workforce development issue. The industry will need mid-level people to fill in as workers retire. At the same time, the industry could use an influx of new voices and fresh perspectives. Thus, experienced workers who can problem solve, work constructively with stakeholders, and who can learn quickly will be valued. In addition, especially in the northeast, there will be a large number of projects up for federal license renewal within the next ten years. This will mean that people skilled in regulatory areas will be needed by hydropower owners, as well as other stakeholders who will participate in the relicensing process—river conservation groups, state and federal agencies, etc. Finally, there may be an uptick in demand for research professionals to conduct studies, primarily through industry service-providers.

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