The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

Panel Discusses Options to Fund Worker Training, Ensure Standards

A recent fire at a big-box retailer in California linked to a faulty solar installation highlights a key concern for the booming U.S. solar industry: how to develop a qualified workforce and finance worker training.

Speakers at an “Ideas Swap” session at Solar Power International 2012 (SPI) in Orlando, Fla. urged speedy action, because federal stimulus money allocated for solar training at certain schools is drying up.

“Typically, [entry-level] workers typically can’t pay for it themselves. They don’t have the money,” warned Ezra Auerbach, executive director of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, which specializes in certification for installers of photovoltaics and solar heating.

Indeed, some solar schools already are struggling to fill classes because of inadequate funding, said Bob Ramlow, a solar trainer in Wisconsin who helped start the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

One option to fund training could be a private-public partnership between workforce development groups and the solar industry. The government’s workforce groups could borrow money from banks or credit unions to pay for classes, provided companies commit to hire workers trained at accredited training programs, suggested Philip Haddix, project manager at The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Washington, D.C.

Another possibility might be assessing a nominal fee on solar installations — based on kilowatts or square footage — to fund a revolving loan fund that would pay for the training programs, Haddix said.

Some session participants backed the idea of a fee, happy to support moves to ensure a quality workforce and build consumer confidence in solar. But others questioned a new “tax,” suggesting money might come instead from groups that provide rebates to consumers on installations.

Participants also disagreed on how to define quality training for solar workers. No federal standards now apply, and states have different requirements. In some cases, schools are duplicating efforts to develop their own, separate solar training programs, bemoaned Patricia Call, an international consultant with UltraSystems in California who works with local community colleges that provide solar training.

“Unless the industry sets standards clearly and collaborates, we are not going to get anywhere,” said Call, one of about 40 people attending the morning session. “Many people are re-inventing the wheel.”

Canada is looking into the possibility of one standardized training and certification program to tackle the problem within its borders, said John Gorman, president of the Canadian Solar Industries Association.

Lead image: Lightbulb sky via Shutterstock

Untitled Document

Get All the Renewable Energy World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to Renewable Energy World or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now

RELATED ARTICLES

Solar water heating

California Regulators Propose Expansion of Eligibility Requirements for Solar Water Heating Program

Jennifer Delony The California Public Utilities Commission has proposed expanding the eligibility requirements for customers seeking ...
Solar

Florida Supreme Court Takes Up Solar Question

Wayne Barber Because Florida remains one of only four states where current laws expressly deny citizens and businesses the freedom...
solar net metering

Lithuanian Net Metering Hits Snag from Outset

Linas Jegelevicius The much anticipated net metering in Lithuania has hit a major snag from the very start – the introduced network oper...
Solar energy

Colorado PUC Orders No Changes to Solar Net Metering

Vince Font In what is being lauded as a “fair outcome” for consumers, utilities and the solar industry alike, the Colorado Publi...

PRESS RELEASES

Canadian Solar Wins Five Solar Power Projects Totaling 185 MW in Brazil

These power projects were won under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the B...

$100 Off of 5-day Advanced PV Project Experience. Download a Topic Schedule.

Assemble, ground, energize, and commission a complete grid-tied SolarEdge system from s...

Intersolar AWARD „Solar Projects in India“ – Applications being accepted until September 18

The Intersolar AWARD in the category Solar Projects in India honors projects in the fie...

National Thought Leaders to Present on Today's Clean Energy Issues & Trends During IREC's 3iForum at Solar Power International

"An encore to the standing-room-only sessions the past two years, IREC again brings som...

FEATURED BLOGS

Washington, DC Bridges the Solar Gap

The District of Columbia has enjoyed 15 years of strong economic growth. But prosperity is spread unevenly across the...

Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade school science class. Now it’s time to ref...

Cronimet / THEnergy study: In solar for mines size does not always matter - Reducing CAPEX with energy efficiency and load shifting

Munich, September 2015. Mining companies are constantly gaining interest in solar solutions because frequently solar ...

Final Program Now Available for GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo

GRC Annual Meeting & GEA Geothermal Energy Expo - Final Program from

FINANCIAL NEWS

Doreen Hemlock is a staff writer for the South Florida SunSentinel newspaper and freelancer for many publications. She holds an MBA with a focus on international business from Columbia University. Born in New York and raised in the U.S. Virgin Isl...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Successfully Integrating Solar: A Proactive Approach

•      What does the increasing solar penetrati...

PV-Diesel Hybrid Systems to Reduce Diesel Demand

Substantial fuel cost saving potential has made PV technology the centre...

Presenting at PV Insider O&M Conference

Charles Pimentel, COO of Solar Frontier Americas will be presenting on t...

COMPANY BLOGS

Sell Through Hypothesis

You first learned to hypothesize, or make educated guesses, in grade sch...

Vacancy? No Problem!

Have you ever tried to sell an efficiency product or service to a prospe...

Going The Extra Mile

Selling efficiency takes perseverance, creativity, and a willingness to ...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS