The Sustainability Hub in Chicago, a new job training center jointly developed by Power52‘s Ecademy and 548 Enterprise, has welcomed the first 20 trainees to its clean energy job training program. Located on the West Side of Chicago, the Sustainability Hub will provide trainees with the skills needed to thrive in Illinois’ expanding solar industry.
With funding from Summit Ridge Energy (SRE), the Sustainability Hub is providing comprehensive job training and employment opportunities to local Illinois job seekers eager to start a career in the clean energy economy. Over the next 10 years, the program will train more than 10,000 residents, focusing on veterans, returning citizens and high school educated residents from underserved communities.
The participants will graduate from the program with solar technician certification and knowledge of how to design, construct, operate and maintain solar energy projects. The program also covers life skills such as conflict resolution and financial literacy, as well as basic construction skills like using power tools, soldering and pipe bending.
Chicago based community organizations have facilitated community outreach to connect local residents with the training program.
“The Sustainability Hub supports our mission of empowering Black communities across Chicago and the wider United States, and we’re already seeing its positive impact in our communities. The training is sharing important knowledge, resources and skills that are helping people prepare for careers in a rapidly growing industry,” said Rev. John Harrell, Black Men United.
After completing the program, graduates will have the opportunity to participate in on-the-job training at solar projects located across Illinois, including more than 100 rooftop projects located in inner-city Chicago developed and owned by SRE, as well as projects developed by 548.
“The individuals who have joined the training program are excited to learn skills that will empower them to work in the solar industry. Chicago Jesuit Academy was excited to refer several young men from the West Side of Chicago to the Sustainability Hub to help chart their path toward meaningful employment,” said Meg Mortensen, Chicago Jesuit Academy.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed by the Biden-Harris Administration, has spurred investment and new partnerships in the clean energy industry, including the Sustainability Hub. However, the Treasury Department’s latest guidance around qualified Energy Communities hinders the construction of solar energy projects in many urban areas, including Chicago, which could affect the ability of the Sustainability Hub to place its trainees on local solar projects. Industry and job seekers are eagerly awaiting additional clarity related to the Energy Communities Tax Credit Bonus and other IRA provisions necessary to support urban solar development and the job creation that will come with it.
“This program is delivering clean energy training to prepare our graduates for careers in the green economy,” said Rob Wallace, president and CEO of Ecademy and cofounder of Power52. “These first 20 participants, of the 10,000 people that will walk through our doors over the next 10 years, will design, construct and maintain the systems that provide clean, renewable and stable power to their neighbors. The underserved and marginalized communities that we serve will be the catalysts for the United States reaching its clean energy goals by 2050.”