Community solar developer commits $5 million to train 1,500 workers

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Dimension Renewable Energy, a community solar developer and operator, announced a multi-year pledge to invest $5 million in U.S. solar workforce development. The funds will support the training of 1,500 solar professionals.

The program will build upon Dimension’s existing work partnering with local non-profits, high schools, community colleges, and adult education centers to deliver in-classroom solar installation instruction, hands-on basic solar construction skills, and OSHA safety certification.

A report from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) said about two-thirds of U.S. solar jobs are at installation and project development firms. The industry reached 263,883 solar workers in 2022, 33,400 of which are manufacturing jobs.

IREC said that 44% of solar industry employers reported in a survey that it was “very difficult” to find qualified applicants for solar in 2022. Workforce development programs are one pathway to ensuring a steady supply of skilled labor.

“As a community solar developer, ‘community’ is core to who we are,” said Bryan Bentrott, vice president, origination, Dimension. “We believe in making clean energy more accessible to everyone, and are committed to workforce development that helps localize the economic benefits of our projects.”

Dimension installs its projects via a community solar model, which typically allows customers to subscribe to a portion of a solar facility’s generation in exchange for credits on their utility bill. The Department of Energy said customers can typically expect to see 10% to 20% savings on their bill from enrolling in community solar.

“By empowering residents to participate directly in community solar, here in New Jersey, and more broadly at all of our sites across the country, Dimension is creating opportunities for upward employment mobility in the communities we serve,” said Bentrott.

To meet workforce and apprenticeship requirements set out by the Investment Tax Credit, developers must ensure that 15% of the labor performed in a project is by qualified apprentices. If the labor threshold is met, the base 6% Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy projects is raised to 30%.

IREC said the solar industry expects total U.S. installations will multiply fivefold in the next 10 years, from 141 GW in 2022 to over 700 GW in 2033. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) predicts the total number of solar jobs could more than double, reaching 538,000 by 2032.

Dimension recently celebrated the installation of 14 MW of community solar installations in New Jersey. The projects will supply local clean energy to more than 2,500 households in Public Service Energy and Gas (PSEG) territory, including more than 1,300 low- and moderate-income subscribers. Dimension expects the facilities to generate more than $550,000 in annual energy savings for subscribers, leading to an average savings of $220 per year.

Dimension is a developer, owner, and operator of over 250 MW of solar, investing over $400 million in its solar assets. The company stated plans to invest an additional $2.5 billion over the next five years, with 2.2 GW of assets in development.

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