ReBuild Communities Teams Up with NCCETC for REPV: Fundamentals of Photovoltaic Design and Installation Training
The solar energy industry is on the rise, and a local non-profit initiative is seizing the opportunity to be a part of it.
From July 8-12, the NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) held an REPV: Fundamentals of Photovoltaic Design and Installation training for ReBuild Communities NC through a Rural Business Development Grant, which the non-profit organization received from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
ReBuild Communities NC is an initiative under Rebuild Durham, Inc., a non-profit Community Housing Redevelopment Organization established in 1999. ReBuild Durham’s mission is to increase the supply of decent and affordable housing for renting or homeownership and skilled job seekers in North Carolina. The USDA grant will be used on projects to benefit small and emerging businesses in rural areas. According to ReBuild’s website, funds will be used for training and technical assistance, distance adult learning for job training and advancement, community economic development, technology-based economic development, leadership and entrepreneur training and more. Since January of 2019, local businesses in Vance, Granville, Warren and Franklin Counties have had access to technical assistance in construction trades for housing rehab, healthy homes and renewable energy.
Tonya Hall, Education Director at ReBuild Durham, said the nonprofit chose to do solar energy training with NCCETC because they realized the solar industry is continuing to grow.
“It’s a professional skill that can be very lucrative,” Hall said. “It’s a forefront industry – it’s what’s coming.”
Hall also expressed she likes that solar is not only economically beneficial, but also good for the environment.
“The solar industry is gaining steam, and it’s a way to help save this wasteful planet,” Hall said. “We’ve got a resource that is unending, and we’re learning how to use it to our benefit.”
Hall said her objective was to expand those opportunities for solar work in Vance, Granville, Warren and Franklin Counties – locations where the industry hasn’t really reached yet.
“I don’t know if residents of these counties are up on solar. I don’t see a lot of solar panels in Henderson. I’m sure the farther rural you go, the less panels you’re going to see,” Hall said. “We’re trying to hopefully equip people with some skills that they can go elsewhere to use – or if the industry picks up in the area, and there will be a workforce to handle the demand.”
Five participants from ReBuild Communities NC attended the REPV Fundamentals class Monday through Thursday in Henderson, NC, and completed the hands-on PV installation day on Friday at the NCCETC Training Site in Raleigh.
The outside hands-on training day was around 100 degrees, Hall recalled, which made it a little rough.
“But we worked really well as a team,” Hall stated.
“[My favorite part] was watching the participants in the training class gain new skills and feel positive that they can turn it into something financially enriching, and know that their lives could be enhanced through this knowledge,” Hall said.
Hall said she definitely aims to do more solar energy training for ReBuild Durham in the future.
This wasn’t the first grant-funded workforce development training NCCETC has done. In 2017, the Clean Energy Opportunity Diversity (CEOD) project, led by the NCCETC with support from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, provided solar design and installation training and energy efficiency training to underrepresented populations in eastern North Carolina. The 40-hour, week-long classes conducted at Halifax Community College helped scholarship recipients achieve a national Photovoltaic (PV) Associate credential through North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and a Building Analyst certification through the Building Performance Institute. Read more about it here.
“We’re always looking for partners and different types of grant funding to support and deliver these trainings,” said Megan Berry, Senior Training Specialist for NCCETC. “We’re very thankful for partners like ReBuild Durham that help make it happen.”
“It’s really important to do these types of workforce development trainings because they can give people the skills they need to begin work almost immediately in a growing industry such as solar,” Berry said. “The industry is booming right now, especially in North Carolina, and employers are looking to hire a skilled workforce.”
The next REPV: Fundamentals of Photovoltaic Design and Installation training at NCCETC will be offered September 9-13, 2019. Learn more and register now here. Online REPV will also be offered September 4-October 10, 2019. Learn more and register for the Online REPV here. The Fundamentals training qualifies participants to sit for the NABCEP PV Associate exam and potentially earn a nationally-recognized credential at the start of their career.
Keep up to date with NCCETC trainings by subscribing to the newsletter here. For more information on training at NCCETC, contact Megan Berry at email@example.com or 919-513-4790.