In anticipation of a rise in home solar energy system installations in several southern California cities, MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California is offering a reduced rate for students interested in its solar photovoltaic (PV) training course.
Part three of our on-going solar installation course series lands us in the Bay Area, home to Silicon Valley, the Golden Gate Bridge and a number of the best solar installation courses in the country. Last summer, Oakland, Santa Clara County and San Francisco made a regional pact to battle greenhouse gases. To meet the demand for green jobs in the area, one of the outcomes of the deal was a major push for solar installation training.
According to San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, San Diego is the top city in the United States when it comes to rooftop solar installation and solar energy production. Appropriately, San Diego solar installation training courses are popping up, creating new jobs for Californians by helping them launch new careers in the growing solar power sector.
As California's solar industry grows, the need for a trained workforce grows with it. Many independent organizations offer solar training classes now--and so do many local colleges and universities. There is no national certification system for solar installers, other than the voluntary NABCEP program, and each state has a different definition for a "certified" installer. There's a training program out there for everyone: solar home owners, the vaguely interested, the experienced contractor, and even the experienced installer looking to prep for the NABCEP exam.
When California faced an energy crisis in 2001, Tim Sears and Erica Mackie were installing renewable energy systems in the private sector. But as they watched their state and profession makeup two halves of a state-wide power breakdown, the two engineers sprung into action, determined to spread the knowledge and skills needed to make solar energy available to underserved communities.
The California Solar Initiative offers solar rebates through the state's investor-owned utilities. Currently, Southern California Edison (SCE) has the highest remaining rebate levels, at $1.90/watt (EPBB) for residential customers. To further facilitate solar adoption among its customer base, SCE announced today that it would be offering free educational classes on solar energy at locations throughout Southern California.
Today, Southern California Edison (SCE) launched a $1 million initiative providing funds to community college students pursuing green jobs training or education. The Green Job Initiative will make $1,000/year scholarships available to hundreds of students at the program's ten participating colleges, which include schools in Los Angeles, Cerritos, San Bernardino, and more southern California communities.
The solar industry is still relatively new. It's going through all kinds of growing pains, from determining the best solar incentives and financing options to figuring out the best materials for solar panels themselves. One of the ways in which the industry has yet to really settle is training: for most highly-skilled trades, there is a proscribed certification process. For solar installers, the single most recognizable professional benchmark is getting a voluntary NABCEP certification. (NABCEP is the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, in case you were wondering. It's a mouthful.) The organization makes a great argument for certification: