“Roadtrip Nation: Empowered State” Follows Three Young Adults as They Explore Their Home State to See the Clean Energy Transition Underway, Learn About Meaningful Clean Energy Careers

August 7, 2023

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) today announced a new documentary series created by Roadtrip Nation: “Empowered State,” that showcases New York State’s abundant clean energy innovation and green job opportunities, as it follows three young adults who travel throughout the Empire State to see the exciting, clean energy transition already underway, and the meaningful clean energy careers driving it. This documentary series highlights the impact of New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) in demonstrating a clean energy economy results in new economic development opportunities statewide and supports long-term jobs across all sectors.

Doreen M. Harris, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Integral to Governor Hochul’s commitment to economic development across the State, is ensuring a just clean energy transition for all New Yorkers and fostering a robust pipeline of clean energy workers. This inspiring documentary, which also includes industry insights from clean energy experts, will help raise awareness about the exciting green job opportunities in New York and across the country and encourage aspiring workers to consider joining the clean energy economy at this pivotal time in United States history – as it is the future of tomorrow that we are building today.”

Roadtrip Nation created the four-part series, “Empowered State,” which was made possible with support from NYSERDA. The series documents the journey of Leila Tevlin, 19, a current student at Elmira College; David Yang, 21, a recent Columbia University graduate; and Julia Dworetzky, 23, an Energy Engineer at Goldman Copeland in New York City. The trio traveled 975 miles in 21 days, beginning in Buffalo, NY and ending in Long Island, NY, and conducted 10 insightful interviews with clean energy professionals across the Empire State. These industry experts represent various clean energy sectors including: high-efficiency buildings, heat pump technology, wind and solar energy, energy storage, hydro power, clean transportation, and community sustainability.

During the road trip, these young adults learned many facets of New York’s growing green economy and helped them better understand the passion and commitment of clean energy workers to make a difference in the lives of others. The documentary series also provides an overview of how to get started in various clean energy career paths while also providing insight into some of the hurdles and ultimate success experienced by those currently employed in this sector.

Mike Marriner, Co-Founder and President, Roadtrip Nation said, “We are thrilled with NYSERDA’s support on this project. This documentary series shines a light on the diverse pathways available to those who want to be part of the future of clean energy in New York. Our hope is to show New Yorkers that there are opportunities for everyone to build in-demand skills and be part of this exciting and fast-growing industry – whether you’re just getting started, making a career change, or leveling up.”

David Yang said, "What this roadtrip meant to me was the opportunity to have genuine conversations with some really inspiring leaders. Not only did it give me hope meeting all these incredibly passionate and talented people working to achieve their vision of sustainability, but I left the roadtrip feeling better about the many different career paths that are available, given the diverse set of experiences I was exposed to while on the road."

Julia Dworetzky said, “The Roadtrip was an incredible adventure and I’m so grateful to have experienced it. I loved exploring New York State and learning about all the clean energy pursuits happening here from inspiring professionals. I feel excited to know so many new and meaningful ways to fit into this field.”

Senate Energy Committee Chair, Senator Kevin Parker said, "New York's abundant clean energy innovation and green job opportunities are paving the way towards a sustainable future. This documentary series by NYSERDA will serve as a beacon, highlighting the incredible progress we have made in embracing renewable energy and creating a cleaner, greener economy for all New Yorkers."

Assembly Energy Committee Chair, Assemblymember Didi Barrett said, “New York State’s nation leading clean energy transition will lead to significant economic development in all corners of the state, launching new careers and creating good-paying jobs in our green energy sector.  This new docu-road trip series is a creative way to tell that story; I look forward to watching Leila, David, and Julia’s journey as they showcase job and career options for people interested in joining the clean energy workforce.”

The four-part documentary series is available to watch online here Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., or on your local New York State PBS station starting this week. Local airtime listings can be found using an airtime widget located at the bottom of the webpage.

Additionally, a clean energy workforce community portal, “Energize Your Career, Transform the Future Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page.,” is also available to help local career seekers and young adults explore their interests and find viable clean energy career paths in New York. The portal offers numerous interviews with clean energy professionals who give candid advice on what it was like for them as they pursued a green job and what path they took to secure it. It also provides an online self-discovery course for young adults, activity guides for students and teachers, and connects current job seekers to current job opportunities.

Both the portal and the documentary series can be used nationally to showcase clean energy careers and inspire young people to become a part of it.

A critical component of New York’s Climate Act is ensuring that the advancement of a low-carbon and clean energy economy drives new economic development opportunities in New York and supports long-term careers, while simultaneously providing support and tools to the workers and communities who may be affected by the unfolding energy transition. A Jobs Study Link opens in new window - close new window to return to this page., issued by New York’s Climate Action Council’s Just Transition Working Group, found that job increases are anticipated in every corner of New York State, totaling more than 200,000 by 2030.

NYSERDA has committed more than $170 million for workforce development and training initiatives, which prioritizes targeting and benefiting priority populations, disadvantaged communities and transitioning fossil fuel workers. NYSERDA’s workforce development efforts are supporting career pathway programs that provide education, training, and services to help place new workers into clean energy occupations like high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), building electrification, energy efficiency and offshore wind as well as upskilling and reskilling existing workers for clean energy jobs. These efforts will help train and prepare more than 40,000 New Yorkers for growing clean energy job opportunities and assist clean energy businesses in recruiting, hiring, and training workers.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's nation-leading climate agenda calls for an orderly and just transition that creates family-sustaining jobs, continues to foster a green economy across all sectors and ensures that at least 35%, with a goal of 40%, of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities. Guided by some of the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiatives, New York is on a path to achieving a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70% renewable energy generation by 2030, and economywide carbon neutrality by mid-century. A cornerstone of this transition is New York's unprecedented clean energy investments, including more than $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce building emissions, $3.3 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. These and other investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2021 and over 3,000% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality, New York also adopted zero-emission vehicle regulations, including requiring all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the State be zero emission by 2035. Partnerships are continuing to advance New York’s climate action with nearly 400 registered and 100 certified Climate Smart Communities, nearly 500 Clean Energy Communities, and the State’s largest community air monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state to help target air pollution and combat climate change.