Clark State to offer paid training program at Big Plain Solar project


For the construction of the Big Plain Solar project, a 196 MW utility solar project, Clark State College and Solar Energy International (SEI) have teamed up to offer paid training and internship programs for students interested in a career in solar energy. The project, located in Ohio, is under development  by Leeward Renewable Energy.

Construction on the 1,500 acre solar project has been underway since August 2022, with initial plans by the developer calling for 400 construction jobs during peak construction of the Madison County, Ohio solar facility.

Now, a portion of the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) work will serve a training program. Local companies have been invited to participate in Clark State’s Solar Training Electric Design and Installation, a “train-the-trainer” program in partnership with SEI.

“Train-the-trainer is an opportunity to train instructors or subject-matter experts to prepare them to train others,” said Crystal Jones, vice president of marketing, diversity, and community impact at Clark State.

Big Plain Solar project participants can learn skills in carpentry, construction, and electrical programs, supporting career growth options for local employees.

“Clark State strives to provide training for the jobs of the future and this partnership with Big Plain Solar demonstrates our commitment to the industry,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State College.

Clark State’s solar training course is an introductory-level course. Students learn solar fundamentals and gain an understanding of various components, system architectures, and applications. The course focuses on grid-connected solar projects, but also covers material critical to understanding various other solar project types.

On-site training includes site analysis, system sizing, array configuration, and performance estimation and electrical design characteristics such as wiring, overcurrent protection, and grounding.

Students will be provided with a detailed look at module and inverter configurations, specifications and characteristics; mounting methods for various roof structures and ground-mounts; and an introduction to safely and effectively commissioning grid-scale solar.


Clark State also partnered with the Bright Future Program, an internship opportunity to onboard solar professionals who can learn more about the solar industry through SOLV Energy, a solar engineering, procurement and construction company.

The solar internship program features include:

  • College students that are 18 years and older;
  • Average hourly pay is between $20-$22;
  • Housing is included and a monthly per diem of $1,500 is provided for those who live more than 75 miles from the employment site;
  • Teams tour opportunity to learn about the solar business;
  • Internships are not just project-based (i.e. construction) roles, but can also include human resources (HR), government affairs, etc.
  • Internship programs take place during summer and last 8 to 10 weeks.

“We are honored to provide an opportunity for students to take solar training,” said Jones. “Ohio instructors can learn how to incorporate solar components into their current programming and create awareness on the solar industry by partnering with BFP.”

In addition to employing a local workforce, Big Plain Solar will be installed using U.S.-made First Solar thin-film solar modules. The project site will incorporate a soil health monitoring program and curate a 70-acre pollinator habitat.

Upon completion, Verizon will purchase the power from the Big Plain project under a long-term power purchase agreement.

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