Community solar developer Summit Ridge Energy is partnering with 548 Enterprise, Ecademy and the Power52 Foundation to launch the “Sustainability Hub” on Chicago’s West Side to train more than 10,000 residents over the next decade.
The solar apprenticeship program is a 13-week (450 hour) training program targeting veterans, formerly incarcerated citizens returning to the workforce (returning citizens), and high school-aged adults from underserved communities. Upon completion, participants can participate in on-site training at one of Summit Ridge’s community solar projects in Cook County, Illinois, and other projects across Illinois.
548 Enterprise and Ecademy, which provide workforce outreach and clean energy online training, announced that their respective campaign will raise $20 million to support curriculum development, program resources, and credentialing services for the Sustainability Hub.
Summit Ridge is committing $600,000 in seed capital over the next two years for the program’s launch.
“Our commitment recognizes the need to invest in workers on the front lines of the renewable energy transition and demonstrates our company’s mission to expand access to clean technologies,” said Steve Raeder, chief executive officer of Summit Ridge. “By empowering hundreds of workers with the tools needed for a successful and fulfilling career in clean energy, we’re also providing a sustainable stimulus to Illinois’ economy.”
A Power52 representative followed up with pv magazine USA to say that guidance around solar apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship recognition related to the Investment Tax Credit and was just released by the federal government in the expansive Inflation Reduction Act. The company is in the process of getting the training program recognized by Department of Labor as a Clean Energy Apprenticeship program. Further details on the solar apprenticeship can be found here.
The first participants of the hub will begin training in January 2023. To participate or learn more about a training program, visit www.548enterprise.com/foundation.
548 Enterprise is a minority-owned, registered broker-dealer which helps minority- and women-owned companies such as general contractors gain access to capital by facilitating introductions to financial institutions that were previously unavailable.
Ecademy, a Power52 Company, provides clean energy career training solutions through NCCER (construction) standardized curriculum, PV Solar curriculum with NABCEP credentials, and curriculum to aid with navigating the Green Environment with project management skills.
Summit Ridge was formed in 2017 and has developed community solar and rooftop distributed generation projects in Illinois, Maryland and Maine. In Illinois, the company has 250 MW of solar projects constructed and in development. In July, Summit Ridge raised $175 million from Apollo Funds to fund geographic growth expansion and other initiatives.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Illinois is the 16th largest solar state market as of Q2 22 with 1.56 GW of solar deployments, as well as $1.2 billion in capital investments into the industry last year. The state ranks 13th in the country for solar jobs with 5,520 jobs.
*This article was amended on Dec. 7, 2022 to include a comment by Power52 with respect to the Chicago Sustainability Hub and its solar apprenticeship designation related to the Investment Tax Credit.
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