JACKSON — The Mississippi Development Authority’s (MDA’s) Energy Division is one of several partners in the creation of a Southern Solar Energy Training Network in the Southeast. The network is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) efforts to invest in solar workforce development and is being created through the University of Central Florida’s (UCF’S) Florida Solar Energy Center.
“The State of Mississippi is pleased to be a part of initiatives like the Southern Solar Training Network, which will address a critical need for high-quality training in the solar energy industry,” said Gray Swoope, MDA’s executive director. “By providing training in this emerging field, the state will be able to create new job and business development opportunities that can have a real and lasting impact on our communities.”
The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the UCF, will operate the Southeast region of the seven-region network. DOE announced that FSEC was selected as one of nine national institutions to operate the newly created Solar Installer Instructor Training Network. A $2.8-million award from DOE will provide solar workforce development train-the-trainer programs for educational institutions in the southern U.S. and territories.
FSEC is teaming with the following state and territory partners to develop the network: Florida Energy Office; Technology Assessment Division, Louisiana Department of Natural Resources; Arkansas Energy Office, Arkansas Economic Development Commission; Energy Division, MDA; Alabama Energy Division; Southface of Atlanta; Energy Affairs Administration of Puerto Rico; and, U. S. Virgin Islands, Energy Office, Office of the Governor. Southface will assist in the overall coordination of the program.
The national network includes the regions of Mid-Atlantic States at Pennsylvania State University and North Carolina State University, Midwest at Midwest Renewable Energy Association Inc., the Northeast/New England at Kennebec Valley Community College and Hudson Valley Community College, the Rocky Mountain States at Salt Lake Community College, the South Central at Houston Community College, the West Coast at California Community Colleges Board of Governors and the Southeast at UCF/FSEC.
DOE plans to invest $27 million, including $10 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, to establish the network of regional resource and training providers. The DOE program, in partnership with the U.S. departments of labor and education, will address workforce development barriers within the solar industry. The new Solar Installer Instructor Training network promotes high-quality training in the installation of solar technologies