Posted on October 22, 2021
Categories: News from SDP

Philadelphia Energy Authority unveils state-of-the-art Solar Training Lab at Frankford High School to create equitable access to the clean energy transition

PHILADELPHIA, October 22, 2021 – Mayor Kenney, Superintendent Hite, and many others joined the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) on Friday to celebrate a significant milestone in Pennsylvania’s equitable transition to clean energy with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of a brand new Solar Training Lab at Frankford High School. In partnership with the School District of Philadelphia, funded by PECO and other industry partners, the lab provides training opportunities for Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing careers in solar and clean energy. The lab is used by high schoolers in the District’s Bright Solar Futures program, a 3-year Career and Technical Education (CTE) vocational program, the first of its kind in the nation, that launches young people into the jobs of the future.

Bright Solar Futures (BSF), funded with grants from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and PECO, provides access to solar careers for young Philadelphians, growing a diverse and more equitable workforce that will help make national climate priorities a reality. The recently completed BSF Solar Lab provides a state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment for Frankford High School students.

“Philadelphia is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050, and that effort will create thousands of jobs,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We need our young people to have access to those careers, and this lab will ensure they do. Congratulations to the School District, Frankford High School, and the Philadelphia Energy Authority on this important milestone.”

“I am proud to see Philadelphia and the School District leading the way in creating a diverse clean energy workforce,” said City Council President Darrell Clarke. “When we set out 5 years ago to invest $1 billion and create 10,000 jobs in clean energy, we knew we would have to work hard to make sure that those jobs reached communities that have traditionally been overlooked in this industry. Today, we cut the ribbon on the jobs of the future, right here at Frankford.”

“We’re proud to offer the first Solar Energy program, where our students have access to learn skills that will allow them to enter one of the fastest-growing energy careers,” said William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. “We’re also grateful for the support from the Philadelphia Energy Authority, PECO, and other industry partners for their investment in our students and their bright futures.”

“Supporting Bright Solar Futures and the opening of this new Solar Training Lab is at the intersection of two very important priorities for us at PECO – supporting clean energy resources to mitigate the impact of climate change and furthering initiatives to spur the clean energy workforce of tomorrow,” said Mike Innocenzo, President & CEO at PECO. “We are proud to be involved with this program and look forward to seeing the ‘bright’ futures ahead for these students.”

At Friday’s event, PEA was also joined by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which announced a new toolkit for prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in the solar industry. Called Energy Justice Partnerships (EJPs), this concept allows very large, utility-scale solar projects to easily partner with an organization providing equity and access to solar jobs and solar power for historically marginalized communities. EJPs will allow solar developers and corporate and institutional buyers to incorporate these partnerships into their power purchase agreements, creating long-term funding for frontline organizations, and using renewable energy to support communities who have traditionally borne the brunt of the effects of fossil fuel production.

“I am thrilled that Bright Solar Futures has a home at Frankford High School here in the 7th District. Our young people deserve access to the best training possible for the jobs of the future, especially when they are living wage, green jobs. Frankford’s new Solar Lab sets the bar high in terms of innovation and technology and helps ensure that communities of color will have access to the jobs and benefits of solar energy. Congratulations to Principal Calderone, the School District, and the Philadelphia Energy Authority-under the leadership of Council President Clarke,” said Councilmember Maria Quinones Sanchez, 7th District.

“We are so proud to be here today at Frankford with these partners and these students. Solar is the fastest-growing job in Pennsylvania, and this lab will ensure equitable access to these jobs,” says Emily Schapira, President and CEO of Philadelphia Energy Authority. “Bright Solar Futures students train in solar and battery storage installation, sales, and design, along with weatherization, construction basics, and job site safety, ensuring that Philadelphia has the best-trained clean energy workforce in the region.”