SETO FY2018 – Workforce Initiatives

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The Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 (SETO FY2018) funding program addresses the affordability, flexibility, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. This program funds early-stage research projects that advance both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) technologies and supports efforts that prepare the solar workforce for the industry’s future needs.

On October 23, 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it would provide $53 million in funding for 53 projects in the SETO FY2018 funding program. Of those projects, seven will focus on workforce initiatives. Read the announcement. On March 22, 2019, an additional $28 million in funding was announced for 25 projects, one of which will focus on workforce initiatives.

Approach

Projects in the workforce initiatives topic seek to prepare the solar industry for a digital future and modern grid while also increasing the number of veterans and other participants in the solar industry.

Objectives

Workforce projects will help prepare the industry for its future needs through programs that are designed to help utility professionals manage a modern grid and increase the number of veterans and other talent pools in the industry.

Selectees

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

Expanding the Solar Workforce

Midwest Renewable Energy Association

Project Name: Solar Ready Wisconsin
Location: Custer, WI
DOE Award Amount: $800,000
Cost Share: $900,000
Principal Investigator: Nick Hylla
Project Summary: The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) will lead Solar Ready Wisconsin, an initiative that will support the development of a statewide network of industry stakeholders, training providers, and nonprofit organizations working to develop solar workforce capacity in Wisconsin and the surrounding region. In collaboration with a network of local community colleges, MREA will create a program called the Wisconsin Solar Corps to provide job training and facilitate job placement for qualified candidates in the solar industry. Once a successful model has been developed, MREA will work to make Solar Ready Wisconsin a replicable program that has the potential to be used across the Midwest.

Blue Lake Rancheria

Project Name: Multi-Sector Solar Career Training Initiative for Native Americans and Veterans
Location: Blue Lake, CA
DOE Award Amount: $600,000
Cost Share: N/A
Principal Investigator: Stephen Kullmann
Project Summary: This project will provide integrated solar-career training for Native Americans, veterans, and Native American veterans. Blue Lake Rancheria will offer workshops, training, and hands-on learning experiences for a variety of solar-related skill sets. The training will emphasize cross-sector skill building as well as the needs and experiences of veterans and Native Americans. Trainings will be tailored to areas of likely growth in the solar industry as well as the skills of the program participants.

Safer Foundation

Project Name: Safer's Solar Energy Demand Skills Training Program
Location: Chicago, IL
DOE Award Amount: $800,000
Cost Share: N/A
Principal Investigator: David Gianfrancesco
Project Summary: The Safer Foundation, which focuses on workforce development and programming for people in the criminal justice system, will advance its Solar Energy Demand Skills Training program to fill the growing workforce needs of the solar industry. The Safer Foundation and its partners across the state of Illinois will provide participants with a comprehensive program based on interests and aptitudes. Experienced solar industry trainers, employers, and supervisors will combine classroom training, hands-on experience in the lab, and real-world installations to enable participants to better understand the sales, design, and installation fields.

Illinois Green Economy Network

Project Name: Expanding the Solar Workforce through the Illinois Community College System
Location: Godfrey, IL
DOE Award Amount: $1,250,000
Cost Share: N/A
Principal Investigator: Katie Davis
Project Summary: This project will expand the solar workforce through a statewide program that strengthens the connections between education and training providers, job seekers, industry, and local communities. The team will build upon current solar-related courses and programs available at Illinois community colleges and make improvements through credentialing, instructional design, and new industry partnerships to better align with employer needs. The program will also make sure that licensure is embedded within the program and leverage all potential talent pools, including veterans.

The Solar Foundation

Project Name: The National Solar Jobs Accelerator
Location: Washington, DC
DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000
Cost Share: N/A
Principal Investigator: Christopher Walker
Project Summary: This project aims to accelerate the integration of transitioning military-service members and veterans into solar careers. In partnership with Hiring our Heroes and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the team will demonstrate a viable, scalable, work-based learning model that places transitioning service members into traineeships and apprenticeships ranging from technical sales and design to installation and project development. By engaging community and technical colleges, workforce boards, and community and economic development organizations in high-demand markets, the team will initiate intensive industry partnerships and better leverage the workforce community.

Philadelphia Energy Authority

Project Name: Bright Solar Futures
Location: Philadelphia, PA
DOE Award Amount: $1,250,000
Cost Share: $46,500
Principal Investigator: Laura Rigell
Project Summary: This program will expand existing efforts in Philadelphia to develop a new, replicable workforce training program for the region’s growing solar industry. The curriculum will include solar installation, construction safety, an introduction to solar sales and design, and other job-readiness programs. Successful program graduates will be placed in internships with local employers and get ongoing support from the program to increase the likelihood of job retention.

SunSpec Alliance

Project Name: Cyberguardians and STEM Warriors
Location: San Jose, CA
DOE Award Amount: $1,250,000                                                                               
Cost Share: N/A               
Principal Investigator: Thomas Tansy    
Project Summary:
Veterans with information technology skills and the ability to use advanced digital tools can lead efforts to modernize the electricity grid and improve the integration of distributed energy resources (DER). This project will support veterans with cybersecurity and information technology training to further develop these skills through new online training modules, accredited curricula, and hybrid training programs in DER system designs, grid operations, data analytics, cyber security, and investment decision support. The program will recruit veterans and transitioning military personnel from military bases and through existing veterans programs and facilitate job placement with utilities, grid operators, and other companies in the DER industry. This program will help to increase the pool of veterans to help fill positions critical to the security of the U.S. electrical grid.

Digital Adaptation Training for Distributed Energy Resources on the Grid

Electric Power Research Institute

Project Name: Grid Ready Energy Analytics Training with Data
Location: Knoxville, TN
DOE Award Amount: $6,000,000
Cost Share: $1,500,000
Principal Investigator: Thomas Reddoch
Project Summary: The Grid Ready Energy Analytics Training with Data (GREAT with Data) initiative will enhance workforce readiness in the electric utility industry by focusing on the intersection of power systems and digital systems. The project will develop and deliver open-source professional training and university course content in data science, cybersecurity, integration of solar photovoltaic and other distributed energy resources, and information and communication technology for power systems workers in transmission and distribution. Through collaboration with utility and university partners, this initiative will develop certifications, credentials, qualifications, and standards for the training and education needed in the electric utility workplace to help transform the grid of the future. 

Learn more about the SETO FY2018 funding program and the projects selected for the photovoltaics and concentrating solar-thermal power topics.