Last week, three graduates of the Illinois Solar Pipeline Training Program installed the first Illinois Solar for All project on the roof of Heaven’s View Christian Fellowship in Peoria, Illinois. These graduates are now employed by StraightUp Solar, a local solar installation firm. Illinois Solar For All brings resources for solar project development to environmental justice and income eligible communities throughout Illinois.
Reverend Tony Pierce, co-senior pastor of Heaven’s View, worked with legislators and community stakeholders to pass the Future Energy Jobs Act in 2016, which included funding for Illinois Solar for All and Solar Training Programs. One year later, Rev. Pierce and four others from Heaven’s View founded Community Transformation Partnership Power LLC (CTP-Power), a solar project development company focused on training people from the community to install the jobs that CTP-Power sold. With deep roots in the community, Pierce worked closely with Jobs Partnership Peoria, a non-profit created to help the chronically unemployed and underemployed get jobs in the community.
Jobs Partnership Peoria, the Tri-County Urban League, and Illinois Central College, with a grant from ComEd, created the Solar Pipeline Training Program, which trains people for the solar installation jobs. Graduates of the training program are placed into living wage jobs developed by CTP-Power to create job security. StraightUp Solar is one of the solar installers partnered with CTP-Power to offer jobs to graduates, including the three installers who are installing solar modules on the roof of the church.
“It’s about changing the model for how we think about shifting capital and providing opportunities to poor black and white people in our state,” explained Rev. Pierce. “Many of the people in my community only have access to low-wage jobs, which means a household will bring in $20,000-50,000 a year. Getting someone a job like a solar installer position can double their household income. This can change the entire outlook for a family.”
The graduates and StraightUp Solar mentors installed a 74.9-kW array, expected to offset 74% of the church’s energy needs. The church plans to use the money saved through the PPA with Hawk-Attollo LLC to support critical services in the congregation and for the community.
“StraightUp Solar is proud to be the chosen partner for these projects. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with CTP-Power on this transformative approach to establishing solar in communities that have traditionally been left out of renewable energy development,” said Shannon Fulton, Vice President of Development for StraightUp Solar.
Heaven’s View Christian Fellowship is the first of several Illinois Solar for All projects that CTP-Power and StraightUp Solar will complete throughout Illinois. Central Road Energy is aggregating the projects to apply for the Solar Renewable Energy Credits in order to make this possible.
News item from StraightUp Solar