Solar Works DC Kick-Off

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July 26, 2017
Solar Works DC job trainees get interviewed by a tv crew

“The solar panels are getting a workout right now,” exclaimed DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, referencing the abundant sunshine on Monday morning, as Solar Works DC job trainees gathered behind the Mayor in their gold shirts for the official Solar Works DC kick-off event.

Solar Works DC  is a program spearheaded by the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) and the Department of Employment Services (DOES) that provides hands-on solar installation job training to District residents, as well as brings the benefits of solar to low-income homeowners. GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic is implementing the first year of this program that will train up to 75 District residents in solar installation skills, and will provide between 60 and 100 income-qualified homeowners with solar. 

 

The group, including the Mayor, Nicole Steele, Solar Works DC job trainees, and Homeowner Amy gather
The community came out to celebrate the kick-off of Solar Works DC
The first cohort is part of the Summer Youth Employment Program’s (SYEP)’s Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP). This six-week session is training DC residents between the ages of 18 to 24, many of whom have never installed solar before.  Job trainees receive hands-on experience installing solar, and engage in weekly workshops ranging from job searching best practices to climate change communication. 

“This opportunity has helped me step outside of my comfort zone,” said Whitney, a Solar Works DC job trainee who is looking forward to a career in public health. She sees the new skills as beneficial to her career, even if it’s not in solar, because she is engaging with GRID clients face-to-face and learning how to work in a team. For other job trainees, this introduction to solar made them rethink their future. “Solar is going to be my career,” said Devonte. Another job trainee, Dexter, who was part of GRID’s GZEP cohort last year, explained, “I was just waiting for this all year, so I could come back.”

Two Solar Works DC job trainees carry a solar panel
Each job trainee get hands-on experience installing solar
Homeowner Amy, whose system was installed by Solar Works DC job trainees earlier that week, was there to welcome everyone to her home.  Amy found out about GRID at her local Advisory Neighborhood Commision meeting. “I wanted to thank the youths  –  the trainees of GRID – for their respect and all the work you’ve done,” she said. By the end of this summer, the Solar Works DC job trainees will have twelve solar installations like Amy’s under their belt. 

The presentation of the SolSmart Gold award to the District wrapped up the event. Through the SolSmart Program, The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) recognize local governments addressing local barriers to make it easier for solar energy development. The District recognizes that job training is an 

Solar Works DC job trainees pose by a banner
Solar Works DC job trainees work side-by-side with GRID staff
integral part of growing the solar industry. “One of the best choices job seekers can make right now is a career in the solar industry,” said Andrea Leucke, President and CEO of The Solar Foundation. The Solar Works DC program is coming at just the right time – when the DC solar industry is growing at a rate of 17.9%. This program helps connect job seeking individuals with career opportunities in this growing industry, while allowing the District to meet its climate change commitments. 

GRID’s summer session is almost over, but we are recruiting for the Solar Works DC 12-week Fall session! District residents over the age of 18 can apply. More information here.  

View the Solar Works DC kick-off Event Album here.

Did you miss the event? You can see the speaking portion here.