Philadelphia, Oct. 26, 2018 – City Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) and At-Large members Blondell Reynolds Brown and Derek S. Green joined the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) on Friday to announce that their “Find Your Power” solar training program for Philadelphia youth has received a $1.25 million U.S. Department of Energy award.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office selected PEA’s initiative as one of 53 innovative projects to be funded, one of only seven for workforce development. Award amounts are subject to final negotiation.
“Innovation is key to solar’s continued growth in our nation’s energy portfolio,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in a DOE statement. “Developing new skills through workforce training is critical to expanding job opportunities in the renewable sector.”
“The Philadelphia Energy Campaign has already created hundreds of jobs for Philadelphians through programs like Solarize Philly,” Council President Clarke said. “This $1.25 million award will prepare Philadelphia’s young people to be first in line for family-sustaining, in-demand clean energy jobs.”
The PEA will use the award to establish the nation’s first Clean Energy Program of Study for high school students. PEA will work with the School District of Philadelphia to develop a three-year curriculum to train students for careers in the clean energy sector. If this program is recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, it will unlock funding for school districts across the state to offer PEA’s curriculum.
The PEA will also leverage the award to offer intensive clean energy training to over 100 students during the three-year project. From 2019 to 2021, PEA will offer an expanded 1,000-plus hour curriculum to School District of Philadelphia CTE students, with a parallel track for opportunity youth from YouthBuild Philly.
The PEA received the award in partnership with YouthBuild Philly, the Philadelphia Education Fund, Solar States, and the Energy Coordinating Agency, with the support of Superintendent Dr. William R. Hite of the School District of Philadelphia and Secretary Patrick McDonnell of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
“PEA’s Bright Solar Futures initiative is another remarkable way that the School District of Philadelphia is joining forces with the Philadelphia Energy Campaign to benefit our students and implement Green Futures,” Dr. Hite said. “We are proud to lead the way for school districts across the country by training our students for 21st century careers in the clean energy sector.”
The Bright Solar Futures initiative builds on PEA’s “Find Your Power” program which has trained 53 students in clean energy since 2017. The PEA has supported participants from this introductory program to secure internships and even full-time employment in the clean energy economy. Find Your Power was made possible by funding from Solarize Philly, PECO, Siemens, and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar in Your Community Challenge.
This award comes shortly after PEA closed the second phase of Solarize Philly, a citywide program to help Philadelphians go solar at home. The program stands out as the country’s largest citywide solar energy campaign. Solarize Philly created 52 jobs with three participating installers, helped position Philadelphia as 4th in the country for 2017 solar growth, and spurred the Commonwealth to list solar installer as a High Priority Occupation for Philadelphia County, demonstrating the demand for solar trainees.
“This is exactly the result we were aiming for when we launched the Philadelphia Energy Campaign in 2016: creating economic opportunities through clean energy,” PEA Executive Director Emily Schapira said. “The DOE award will help us scale up our training program to keep pace with Philadelphia’s rapidly growing clean energy sector.”
“Once again, Philadelphia is leading by example for other cities across the country,” Councilmember Reynolds Brown, who chairs City Council’s Committee on the Environment, said. “It is imperative that Philadelphia prepare our young people for careers in clean energy, especially in light of the recent UN climate report. This award positions the trainees to be at the forefront of this urgent transition.”
“The Philadelphia Energy Authority has already made a lasting impression on the lives of many young Philadelphians, helping them learn and train for rewarding careers in the clean energy sector,” Councilmember Green, also an Environment Committee member, added. “Now, thanks to this funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, PEA can expand their successful solar workforce program for generations to come.”
Watch the press conference:
National Public Radio: Local Newscast 5pm 10/26/18