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ComEd Awards Solar Training Grants Under Future Energy Jobs Act

On Thursday, December 7, 2017, the one-year anniversary of the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), utility Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) announced organizations selected to develop and conduct solar pipeline training programs made possible through grants funded by FEJA.

Elevate Energy, with an application including the BIG MILLENNIUM SOLAR team, is one of the 4 organizations selected to receive a total of $3 million as a part of the first wave of FEJA funding to train individuals to work in the solar industry.  The collaboration features the broad energy expertise of Elevate; and complementary expertise in solar training, design, installation, communication, and program management of joint venture partners Blacks in Green and Millennium Solar.  Illinois Central College, OAI Inc., and the Safer Foundation are also awardees.

Blacks in Green has served in tandem with the Chicago Environmental Justice Network since the early days of “Illinois clean energy” legislative initiatives, and is currently a Steering Committee member of The Illinois Climate Action Table.  Scores of experts at this Table provided years of leadership on crafting provisions to benefit the solar industry, with special lobbying leadership by Little Village Environmental Justice Organization [LVEJO] to ensure strong benefits for communities of color.  As FEJA outlines, the solar pipeline training effort will focus on individuals who are from economically disadvantaged and environmental justice communities, alumni of the Illinois foster care system and returning citizens.  The full FEJA law allocates a total of $30 million to develop and implements a number of major energy job training programs with different areas of focus.

According to ComEd, the $30 million in funding will be allocated in three $10 million increments paid in 2017, 2021 and 2025 and used to support job training programs over the next 12 years. The newly announced solar training grants come after ComEd awarded $7 million in grants for multicultural training and a craft apprenticeship program last month. ComEd says the $10 million in funding for all three initial workforce training initiatives will be disbursed before the end of this year.

“ComEd is committed to helping grow renewable energy in Illinois and equally dedicated to developing the workforce of the future who will help integrate more clean energy like solar, into the Illinois energy grid,” says Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd president and CEO, in a press release. “The training programs that will be created by the organizations announced today will ensure that the next generation of energy workers is prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities created by a new clean energy economy. We are excited to see this part of the FEJA take flight and look forward to working with these partners to ensure success of these job training programs.”

Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks in Green says,  “BIG has a special commitment to use this game-changing opportunity to sustain an active outreach, education, and recruitment pipeline to build community wealth in African American communities and other historically disenfranchised neighborhoods…and provide superior household comfort and cost savings along the way.”  She added, “We are super proud of Millennium Solar, whose founder is a third generation African American IBEW electrician, and who embodies the heart of soul of solar training with almost 2 decades of quality solar design-install services.”  BIG MILLENNIUM SOLAR is also prepared to take its talent – including solar subscriptions, community solar development, and energy efficiency services – beyond South and West Side neighbors, to clients across the region.

Look for announcements from Blacks in Green of public information sessions, trainee and vendor outreach campaigns, and Teach-In Teams available to make targeted presentations at schools, clubs, associations, faith and community organizations.  For more information contact Naomi Davis at 773-678-9541 or [email protected].

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