PECO president and CEO Mike Innocenzo, commerce director Harold Epps, and city sustainability director Christine Knapp joined the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) and the Solar Training Network to honor clean energy trainee graduates and celebrate the success of solar energy expansion efforts in Philadelphia.
“Philadelphia is proud to encourage city businesses and residents to make the switch to solar energy,” Mayor Kenney said. “Solar technology helps us create jobs and lower the carbon footprint of the city. We are committed to a 100% renewable energy future and solar is a key piece of the puzzle to get us there.”
“The Solarize Philly program is advancing our clean energy and workforce development goals and making Philadelphia a national leader in sustainable energy—just as we envisioned when Council authorized the Philadelphia Energy Authority in 2010,” Council President Clarke said. “Philadelphia is well on track for continued growth in the sustainable energy sector, thanks in great part to these 30 young ‘Find Your Power’ students. They are the future of our workforce.”
“At PECO, we are committed to leading the charge toward an environmentally sustainable future and, most importantly, ensuring there is a diverse workforce ready for these emerging energy jobs as they become available,” PECO president and CEO Innocenzo said. “The Philadelphia Energy Authority’s ‘Find Your Power’ program is a shining example of a successful public-private partnership, as students are not only educated but also equipped with competitive skills to enter the workforce. We are proud to invest in such an innovative program, and will continue supporting youth education and enrichment across the Greater Philadelphia region.”
Representatives of the Solar Training Network were on hand to discuss the national solar jobs context, highlight career pathways, and record workforce development insights that could be applied in other growing solar markets. Philadelphia was the 4th fastest-growing solar energy markets in the United States last year.
In its second year, the PEA’s ‘Find Your Power’ program is taught by instructors from Solar States and the Energy Coordinating Agency, and administered as part of the Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady program. The program received a $100,000 contribution from PECO this year. In addition to offering job training, “Find Your Power” also placed 10 students who had previously completed the program in relevant internships at local clean energy businesses and other organizations.
“The ‘Find Your Power’ program showed me that solar is a growing field,” said trainee Auntor Ferguson, also a YouthBuild Philly graduate. “I’m glad to be hopping on the wave now.”
The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census found that solar employment increased by 24% in the Philadelphia metro area from 2016 to 2017, for a total of 2,319 solar workers in greater Philadelphia. After just one year, the three solar companies serving customers through Solarize Philly created 42 new solar jobs.
The Solar Foundation also recognized Philadelphia’s Gold status designation from SolSmart, a national program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that recognizes municipalities and counties that successfully encourage residents and businesses to go solar. Local governments achieve SolSmart designation by evaluating programs and practices, such as permitting, planning, and zoning, in order to reduce obstacles to solar energy development and pass cost savings on to consumers.
“Philadelphia’s fast-growing solar industry is creating new job opportunities while offering residents a clean and affordable energy source,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director at The Solar Foundation. “We’re proud to send our huge congratulations to the ‘Find Your Power’ graduates today. We also congratulate the City of Philadelphia for earning SolSmart Gold status and achieving real industry growth.”
PEA administers the “Find Your Power” program as the training component of Solarize Philly, a citywide program to help Philadelphians go solar at home. Since 2017, more than 3,500 households have signed up to receive discounted group pricing on solar energy options, and 236 have signed contracts for solar. PEA recently extended the deadline to September 30th, giving homeowners another chance to sign up for a free solar assessment at www.solarizephilly.org.
Solarize Philly is part of the Philadelphia Energy Authority’s $1 billion Philadelphia Energy Campaign, a sustainable energy initiative announced by Council President Clarke in 2016 to reduce energy costs and create 10,000 energy sector jobs over 10 years.
“Solarize Philly lowers the cost of going solar at home, while supporting solar career training for Philadelphia high schoolers,” PEA Executive Director Emily Schapira said. “The Philadelphia Energy Campaign has already created hundreds of jobs. We are positioning young Philadelphians to join the city’s growing solar industry.”
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided seed funding for Solarize Philly as part of the Solar in Your Community Challenge—a federal initiative to support innovative and replicable community-based programs to bring solar to underserved communities across the country.
News item from the Philadelphia Energy Authority