Organizations including Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC), the Maryland-DC-Delaware-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA), Dominion Energy, Microsoft, solar developers, construction companies and energy consulting and recruiting firms, joined forces to launch SHINE, a public-private partnership dedicated to building solar career pathways in Virginia.
SHINE’s official launch complements Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 43, signed on September 17, which brings renewable energy generation and jobs to the forefront of Virginia’s economy. The executive order sets a goal of generating 30% of Virginia’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% by 2050. Virginia currently has about 775 MW of installed solar, which generates roughly 1.03% of the total electricity in the state.
SHINE (Solar Hands-On Instructional Network of Excellence), offers solar workforce development programs that prepare Virginia and its citizens to realize maximum employment, community development and economic benefits of anticipated solar market growth.
“With Governor Northam’s announcement, as well as increased interest in renewables from large corporates in the state, the solar sector is expected to ramp up quickly,” said David Murray, MDV-SEIA’s executive director. “Building the solar projects to meet the governor’s goals requires significant human capital and talent. Tens of thousands of well-paying solar jobs are expected to open up and SHINE ensures that Virginians are prepared to access these jobs and that local talent is maximized. MDV-SEIA is proud to be a founding partner.”
The first SHINE class kicks off on October 21 at SVCC’s campus in Blackstone, Virginia. During the 2-week, immersive program, participants will gain hands-on experience installing solar as well as other key skills related to solar project planning and construction safety. Upon graduation, SHINE will facilitate interviews with solar developers and construction companies so graduates have a streamlined pathway to employment in the Virginia solar sector. There is still space available in the first cohort and interested Virginians are encouraged to learn more about the program and apply.
“SHINE was developed with industry input to prepare Virginians for solar jobs across the state,” said Keith Harkins, VP of workforce development at SVCC. “SVCC has a long-standing history of running workforce development programs for the energy sector and launching a program for solar aligns with where energy jobs are heading in the state. The program gives Virginians a competitive edge when applying to jobs because they can demonstrate that they have devoted the time and effort to gain the skills solar employers are looking for.”
The full list of SHINE partners includes Commonwealth Energy Ventures, Cypress Creek Renewables, Faulconer Construction, MDV-SEIA, SolUnesco, SVCC, Strata Solar, Sun Tribe Solar, Dominion Energy, First Solar, Hexagon Energy, Hurricane Fence, Microsoft, Aerotek, Brookfield Renewable, Community Energy Solar, Hardhat, Lincoln Clean Energy, Madison Energy Investments and Urban Grid.
“First Solar is proud and excited to be a part of SHINE,” said Kevin Thornton, manager of Public Affairs East at First Solar. “With the continued focus on and growth of solar energy in Virginia and across the U.S., the hope is this initiative can be a long-term contributor toward helping meet renewable energy workforce needs in the Commonwealth. The initiative is also a shining example of how public and private groups can work together to develop a meaningful program that benefits both sides and the community as well.”
“Microsoft has a strong commitment to Virginia and supporting the communities that host our datacenters,” said Holly Beale, program manager for Datacenter Environmental Sustainability at Microsoft. “Microsoft’s focus on renewable energy, environmental sustainability and community workforce training align with SHINE’s mission. Microsoft is proud to partner with SHINE in this important work.”
News item from SHINE