DOE selects 12 projects to expand solar workforce in underserved areas

Published on June 26, 2023 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected 12 projects, across more than 13 states, for negotiation to launch training partnerships that expand the solar energy workforce in underserved and underrepresented communities.

The selected projects include partners from industry, tribal organizations, unions, community colleges, and state and local governments. The $13.5 million program, funded with $10 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is part of Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is accelerating the clean energy transition, resulting in the creation of hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs and boosting our growing clean energy economy,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “That’s why DOE is working to jump-start solar energy careers, especially in underserved communities, developing the long-term structures needed to deliver these jobs over the next decade.”

The solar industry added 17,200 new jobs in 2021 – an increase of 5.2 percent, according to the 2022 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. DOE expects that the industry will need to grow to between 500,000 and 1,500,000 workers by 2035 to achieve the administration’s decarbonization goals.

The report also found that while the solar industry is more diverse than some other energy industries, the overall energy workforce lags in Hispanic (17%), Black (8%), and Indigenous worker (1%) representation. The Advancing Equity through Workforce Partnerships Funding Program selections will address the need for diversity and inclusion. This program was designed to foster the development of workforce programs that facilitate the rapid deployment of solar energy technologies.

The project selectees are: Adaptive Construction Solutions in Houston, Texas; Amicus O&M Cooperative in Boulder, Colo.; Cook County, Illinois in Chicago; Crater Lake Electrical Joint Apprenticeship Training Center in Central Point, Ore.; Emerald Cities Collaborative in Seattle; Kern Community College District in Bakersfield, Calif.; Power52 Foundation in Columbia, Md.; Red Cloud Renewable in Pine Ridge, S.D.; Solar Landscape in Asbury Park, N.J.; Solar One in New York, N.Y.; the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Lafayette, La.; and Worksystems in Portland, Ore.