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Monday, January 19, 2009

We Energies & MREA team up with solar installers for Habitat for Humanity

From an article on the Web site of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council:

How do you build a local renewable energy workforce and new homes at the same time?

Recognizing a need for more NABCEP certified installers in its service territory, We Energies and other partners teamed up with the Habitat for Humanity (H4H) chapter in Milwaukee to develop a solar training program that would benefit the local industry as well as the H4H chapter and its members.

"It was a natural confluence of events," said Carl Siegrist, Solar Programs Manager. "Last year, I had a number of calls from the local H4H chapter saying they wanted to solarize some of their houses. Around the same time, I'd been talking with our local IBEW and NECA about training opportunities for solar here in Wisconsin. Somewhere between those two conversations, we talked internally about the lack of NABCEP certified solar installers here in the Milwaukee area and in our We Energies service territory. We've got lots of solar work going on here in Milwaukee, but the installers come from Madison or central Wisconsin (where MREA is located). It seemed to us that if there were local installers, maybe the prices would be a bit less because the installers wouldn't be coming from other places in Wisconsin, and we'd be building our own local workforce."

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), long-known for its renewable energy training opportunities, used newly-constructed homes which H4H provided as training roofs for individuals who had prior training, but needed to be the lead on a solar installation in order to qualify for state incentives and to sit for the NABCEP exam.

"We had one of those 'aha' moments," said Siegrist, "when we saw We Energies, NABCEP and IBEW playing together to meet multiple goals: education, training, certification, building our workforce. It was an especially good outcome for NABCEP."

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