The 2021 holiday season was a bag of mixed emotions. With everything going on, from trying to enjoy time with family and friends, to the continued precautions of COVID-19, such as social distancing, wearing masks, vaccinations, and self-quarantine, it has been difficult.
Yet during this trying time a group of ten students along with their teacher, Mr. Ramirez, from DeWolf High School in Fresno, spent their winter break gaining a firm understanding of how solar works to create clean renewable energy. By attending a two-week Solar Futures Solar Intensive training, they worked alongside the GRID team of Adrian Sanchez, Toulee Vang, Casildo Aguilar and Ugo Ifeacho, who introduced the world of photovoltaic (PV) technology. They were taught the entire solar installation process and safety within the solar industry. Additionally, they learned how to use power and hand tools to build mock solar arrays and wire mock electrical panels. Above all, they learned and can demonstrate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) aligned safety procedures when working on a live solar installation site.
At the end of the training there was a graduation ceremony where they received an industry recognized safety certificate for both electrical and array work. One of the students took this opportunity to stand up and speak, he thanked the class, the teacher and GRID Alternatives for the opportunity to learn about solar installation. He stated that, “he wants to come back to GRID to attend the Installation Basis Training (IBT 200).” This is a five-week training course for entry level solar installation. Giving guidance for essential skill building, trainees are successfully growing their technical skill sets which leads to gainful living wage employment and introduces the graduates to companies that are currently hiring in the area.
During the challenges of a year filled with a pandemic, hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, and droughts, continuing work on equity, inclusion, and diversity to change intolerable inequities, inflation and climate change, there is still a light on the horizon with young people looking for a hopeful and successful future.