The Most Forward-Thinking Contractor award celebrates solar installers devoted to making progress in energy and beyond in hopes of a more sustainable future.
– Shaun Keegan, CEO and co-founder
The demand for solar deployment has never been greater, and so too has the need for people qualified to install the renewable energy source. Recognizing that struggle, Solar Landscape (No. 71 on the 2023 Top Solar Contractors List), a community solar contractor from Asbury Park, New Jersey, created a workforce development program called STEP-UP (Solar Training and Education Partnership for Underserved Populations).
An unfortunate reality of renewable energy development is that the technology is often installed where people can afford it, and not necessarily for the people who need it most. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a report in 2021 that found underserved communities, which commonly have greater populations of people of color, are the places most affected by climate change.
Solar Landscape is addressing both employment demands and issues of climate justice through STEP-UP, a program that was recognized by the U.S. Dept. of Energy with a Sunny Award for Equitable Community Solar earlier this year. STEP-UP has trained close to 1,200 people, focusing on residents from low-income communities and creating solar career opportunities in the process.
Solar Landscape partners with community organizations to find people interested in the multi-day program that covers entry-level solar installation training.
STEP-UP graduates can find employment anywhere in the industry, and Solar Landscape has hired a few workers straight from the program, which is offered in New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico and new states to be announced. Solar Landscape is helping to grow renewable energy career opportunities for people who may normally be left out.