~Funds support solar/renewable workforce development at seven community colleges~
Richmond, Va. – Virginia’s Community Colleges are creating and expanding training programs for those seeking careers in renewable energy, thanks in part to a grant of $150,000 from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Virginia Power.
The grant to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, or VFCCE, is helping seven community colleges fund new energy labs and equipment, allowing them to offer solar panel technician training and other renewable energy courses. The community colleges benefitting from the initiative are John Tyler, Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Virginia Highlands, Mountain Empire, Southside Virginia and Central Virginia.
Virginia aspires to be a leader in solar produced power, but needs to bolster its solar workforce to leverage significant investments being made in the sector. Installing and maintaining solar panels for solar farms, residential communities, commercial developments and other structures will require more skilled workers.
“Virginia can’t afford to miss out on a growing industry like solar energy because our workforce lacks the training and skills to seize the opportunity,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We are delighted to work with Dominion to prepare the next generation of solar workers – another big example of our efforts to meet the needs of Virginia’s business community to help grow the Commonwealth’s economy.”
Virginia currently ranks 30th in the nation for solar energy production, but many companies, including Dominion Virginia Power, are forging ahead to add solar energy to the grid. Dominion is committed to developing 400 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. It currently has 398 megawatts of large-scale solar facilities (enough to power 95,000 homes) under development or in operation in 12 Virginia localities. In January, the company completed three large-scale solar farms that employed 550 workers during construction.
“Virginia’s community colleges are uniquely positioned to provide the training for skilled workers in renewable energy fields,” said Hunter A. Applewhite, president of the Dominion Foundation. “We are excited to support these initiatives that will help boost job growth in Virginia.”
This workforce development project started in 2016. It will grow in 2017 to expand the curriculum to all community colleges that offer energy programs. The curriculum will also support expansion of energy programs at high schools through dual enrollment and usage of mobile solar labs.
About the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE)
Working hand in hand with Virginia’s 23 community colleges, the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education seeks to guarantee financial assistance to all students who dream of attending college. The foundation is building an endowment that is already generating interest to provide full scholarships to selected community college students; helping more Virginia foster youth pursue and complete higher education through its Great Expectations program; and leading a partnership to improve rural Virginia’s education pipeline through the Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu/giving.
About Virginia’s Community Colleges
Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 300,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.
Dominion (NYSE: D), is one of the nation’s largest producers and transporters of energy. The Dominion Foundation is dedicated to improving the physical, social and economic well-being of the communities served by Dominion companies, including Dominion Virginia Power. The Foundation supports nonprofit causes that meet basic human needs, protect the environment, support education and promote community vitality. For more information, visit www.dom.com.
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