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Pilot Program Aims To Get St. Louis Residents Ready For Solar Industry Jobs

Solar panels are one upgrade business can make with PACE financing. The Fairview Heights City Council will consider tonight whether to allow the financing program in its city.
File photo / Maria Altman
St. Louis Public Radio
Using funding from the Energy Foundation, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will train 10 St. Louis residents to install solar panels. City officials hope to expand the program in the future.

The city of St. Louis hopes a partnership between job training agencies and the electrical workers union will get more residents employed in the solar power industry.

Applications are open for the pilot program. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will use funding from the Energy Foundation to train 10 city residents to install solar panels. A second small group will receive training in job skills such as interviewing or resume writing from agencies including SLATE and Employment Connection.

St. Louis Sustainability Director Catherine Werner said that despite the small size, the program will benefit the city by getting residents employed in green jobs.

Priority for both parts of the program will go to St Louis residents who are unemployed or underemployed, Werner said. The solar jobs training especially, she said, has layers of potential benefits.

“It will be people, probably minorities in particular, who will benefit from these opportunities, and hopefully they’ll end up with jobs,” Werner said. “The jobs are going to be in the field of renewable energy, and will help advance and transition our local environmental economy toward green energy. And we’ve also heard that solar providers would like to diversify their workforce.”

The coronavirus pandemic delayed the program’s launch — Werner said the city hoped to have it nearly completed by the fall. But, she added, it’s already been successful.

“We have brought together for the first time a number of stakeholders and partners that weren't working together previously,” she said.

Werner hopes that if participants find jobs in the clean energy sector, more partners and funders will step forward to expand the number of people who can get the training.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.