Posted on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

WORKFORCE NEWS: Dominion Invests Training Workers for Emerging Solar/Renewables Industries

The creation and expansion of training programs for those seeking careers in renewable energy is now possible at seven VCCS colleges, thanks to a recent $150,000 grant from The Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Virginia Power. The grant money will fund new energy labs and equipment allowing the colleges — John Tyler, Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Virginia Highlands, Mountain Empire, Southside Virginia and Central Virginia – to offer solar panel technician training and other renewable energy courses.

In order to become a leader in solar produced power, Virginia needs to bolster its solar workforce.

“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 Chancellor DuBois. “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.'

Laura Osberger

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