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Sierra College Awarded $468,000 for Photovoltaic program

Sierra College has been awarded $468,000 in Industry Driven Regional Collaboratives (IDRC) funding by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to develop a Photovoltaics Technician training program.  This grant will play a key role in educating the future “green collar” workforce for solar companies, contractors and local governments in the Capital region.

Dr. Leo E. Chavez, Superintendent/President of Sierra College said the grant will help empower the region's businesses and work force.

“We are pleased to have this opportunity to partner with the City of Roseville and the Nevada County Economic Resource Council to develop and offer this program. Working closely with our community is an illustration of what we do best - respond rapidly to the need for targeted training in an emerging technolog," Dr. Chavez said. "It is a vital part of our mission to contribute to the economic health of the region, by assisting businesses, training potential employees, and partnering with civic leaders. This is a great example of why investment in your local community college makes sense.”

The $468,000 grant required a dollar-for-dollar in-kind match in order to be eligible. The City of Roseville and Nevada County Economic Resource Council will both provide locations for laboratories to conduct hands-on training essential to the photovoltaic industry.

The facilities will also be used to offer training for building inspectors and area firefighters in providing essential public services for development built with photovoltaics. Solar companies, the North State Building Industry Association, and the area’s three utilities – Roseville Electric, PG&E, SMUD will all participate in supporting the program. Total investment by the region in the Sierra College program with the in-kind matches will be just under $1 million. Classes of 24 will begin in 2009 once the curriculum is developed and the facilities are in place.

“We are excited to be offering this innovative instruction program to meet the needs of employers in the region," said Stephanie Guevara, Dean of the Business and Technology Division at Sierra College.  "This grant funding is the direct result of support from our industry partners who described the need for a trained workforce and will be critical partners in developing the curriculum. We look forward to graduating our first cohort and placing them in positions that will grow our economy and support the region’s renewable energy investment.”

The demand for trained workers in this emerging sector is the result of state programs including the California Solar Initiative approved by the California Public Utilities Commission on Jan. 12, 2006. The initiative creates a $3.3 billion ten-year program to put solar on a million roofs in the state. Based on both industry and academic research, employment must grow by thirty percent (30 percent) to meet the state mandates and local building demand.

 Roseville Mayor Jim Gray offered his congratulations to Sierra College.

“I am pleased to celebrate with you and to reaffirm the City’s commitment to the success of this new training program," Gray remarked. " We are proud to be your partner and the future host of the “hands on” training laboratory. In addition to the State’s Million Solar Homes program, local governments also have a number of renewable energy initiatives. 

For example, the City’s BEST Homes program seeks to ensure that 10-20 percent of all new homes are designed to substantially reduce home electricity bills.  We need a locally-trained workforce to meet our BEST Homes goal, attract more companies to the region, and do the right thing by investing in renewable energy.”

Agencies pledging materials, equipment, and time for the Sierra College Photovoltaics Training Program include:

Sierra College                                                               

City of Roseville

HCM LLC                                                                       

Solar Power, Inc.

North State Building Industry Association             


Nevada County Contractor’s Association                           

Williams + Paddon Architects + Planners

CA Solar Electric Company                                             

Pacific Gas & Electric

Plan It Solar                                                                  

Treasure Homes


Sacramento Municipal Utility District

Self-dog Partners                                                          

HDR, Inc.

SMA America                                                                

Sierra Solar


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