Want Government Contracts for Solar Energy Jobs? Get Certified in Renewable Energy

September 9, 2011

A lot of people don’t marvel at the idea of having to “go back to school”, however for some professions it is necessary to get certified in order to obtain employment.  Almost all US companies that work in solar energy require some type of vocational training in solar energy. Many government jobs require solar energy certification before they will accept a bid on an available green job/project. For those people who are seeking a career in renewable solar energy or actively looking for a career they should check into a certified solar energy training programs.

The government is investing billions of dollars in “green-collared” jobs, improving the ways to utilize renewable energy resources and trying to use them as a primary source of energy within the US. Law does not require certification for renewable energy professionals but it is still required before you can bid on many government jobs related to renewable energy. This factor will make the investment in the training and certification process worthwhile in both time and expense.

US government funded jobs have a tendency to create more jobs and demands for similar services. Once a standard is set, the demand for certified solar training programs will increase and so will the number of people trying to break into the field. Being ahead of the curve, especially in this economic time, should be the primary catalyst to spring into action now if a career in solar energy is the desired result. US government subsidies and funding will not last forever.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

What is IREC and Why Look for this when Researching Certified Solar Training Schools?

September 6, 2011

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) has worked with industry, government, educators and other stakeholders to ensure that the broader use of renewable energies is possible, safe, affordable and practical, particularly for the individual consumer.  Their successes are embedded in national energy policies and in updated utility and industry standards and best practices.  The expert input they provide continues to shape rules and regulations in more than 40 states.

What this means for the student who is researching where they would like to attend classes to become a certified solar PV installer, BPI Analyst or Weatherization Tech is that the training facility has to meet certain specifications in order to bear the IREC and ISPQ credentialing.  IREC uses the ISPQ international framework to assess content, quality, and resources across a range of renewable energy, energy efficiency and weatherization training programs. This process leads to defined workplace knowledge and skills, and ensures the legitimacy of what is being taught and by whom. An IREC ISPQ credential sends a strong signal that a rigorous standard has been met.

This leads to the question, what is ISPQ? ISPQ is the International Standard specifying requirements for competency, quality systems, resources, and qualification of a curriculum against which trainers and training programs can be evaluated. Requirements include:

  • The program shall be designed to prepare individuals with knowledge and skills required for a professional trade with the curriculum content following an approved task analysis;
  • Facilities shall be sufficient and safe for the training;
  • The organization has appropriate financial resources and that administrative and management procedures and policies are in practice; and Written policies shall ensure the competence, impartiality, and integrity of the program;
  • On-Line courses will follow standards for sufficient interaction with instructor.

As a student if you are serious about being trained to become a certified solar energy professional, finding a certified training program that offers IREC and ISPQ credentialing will ensure upon completion of the program:

  •  Know you are gaining the knowledge to be successful on the job.
  • Invest in a program that has gone through a rigorous third-party evaluation.
  • Be confident the training uses the right equipment and safety practices.
  • Demonstrate to potential employers the quality of your training.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

Interview: A Day in the Life of a Solar Panel Installer

September 3, 2011

What does a typical day look like for a Solar Panel Installer? 

Well that would be easier to answer if there was one.  It is not a typical 9-5 type of position.  Given the intense heat in Arizona it is preferred to begin as early at 5:00 a.m. if possible.

How did you get started working in this field or interested in the field?

Like so many other people I found myself out of a job when the economy tanked here in the Valley and the housing market went flat.  When a recovery didn’t look hopeful I knew I needed to find something else, and I still wanted to work with my hands.  A friend of mine had solar panels installed on his home and it got me thinking about what I would need to become qualified to install solar panels.

Describe your training or educational background.

I attended community college for business administration. I worked all the through school as a contractor and the money was good so after community college I did it full time.  Once I decided on solar energy I researched certified solar energy training programs in Arizona.  I knew since I lacked practical experience if I wanted to get hired I would need to invest in the education to be employable.

When you hire people for your installation team, do you expect them to have skills and/or experience in solar panel installation?

The short answer is yes. We don’t have the time to train people to be solar panel installers. From a project management perspective, it makes more sense for us to employ people who already have experience or have made the investment in certified training.

What is your advice to someone interested in this field?

Make sure you find a certified solar energy training program so that you are eligible to become certified once the program is over.  The classes do not take long to complete and you will be more prepared to enter the workforce.  More employers are seeking individuals who have made this investment for two reasons:  It is costly for them to have to pay to train all their employees and you are ready to start working from day one.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

Solar Energy Plant Bringing a Huge Boost to the Economy in One Local Town of Arizona

August 31, 2011

In this economy, who isn’t excited to hear about an industry or company that is having a huge impact on the community in which they are located?  Creating jobs and changing lives is the role Solana Solar Energy Plant is having in the small town of Gila Bend, Arizona.  Even more exciting – this is only the beginning.  850 solar energy professionals have infiltrated the city of Gila Bend and next summer the number is expected to double.

Fortunately for the small business owners of Gila Bend city officials saw the possibilities of what Solana would offer their community and implemented fast-track zoning laws for building solar energy plants.  This saved companies time and money in their permitting.  This forethought in planning helped expedite their growth and brought a lot business into their community.

Town officials know that once the solar energy plant is built that a number of construction jobs will disappear, however the plant will be hiring full time employees for the facility.  Given the unique location of Gila Bend and the intensity of the sun in that area it is possible that more solar related companies will open in that area.

What does this mean for the town of Gila Bend, AZ?  For the local small business owners of restaurants and other services it is an opportunity to expand.  Already local restaurants are struggling to keep up with the lunch hour rush.   Some dining hot spots are 30 people deep in line for a sub sandwich or slice of pizza.

There are many people still seeking employment and opportunity.  If they feel that entering this industry is for them they can fast track their training by seeking a certified solar energy program.  This will provide them with the knowledge and hands on training they need to be eligible to become certified and employed.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

 

 

What is the NABCEP?

August 26, 2011

Job seekers that are in the process of researching certified training facilities for the start in the solar energy field are probably seeing some acronyms in which they are not familiar.  One of which is the NABCEP.  This organization is the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.  It is known in the industry as the “gold standard” for PV and solar thermal installation certification. Designed to raise industry standards and promote consumer confidence, NABCEP offers certification and certificate programs to renewable energy professionals throughout North America.

Before someone enrolls in a training program to launch their solar energy career, they need to make sure the training program is NABCEP certified.  This means at the conclusion of their training they will be eligible and prepared to sit for the exams they will need to pass in order to earn their certification.  Although it is not required to have training from a NABCEP certified training facility with previous experience in the filed, it helps those individuals that are brand new to the industry.  Many training programs can be completed within a few short weeks.

The minimal requirements outlined to become a certified Solar PV Installer are:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Meet prerequisites of related experience and/or education as outlined in Section 3.2.1.
  • Sign and agree to uphold a code of ethics.
  • Pay application and exam fee.
  • Pass a written exam.
  • Complete continuing education and installation requirements within the recertification timeframe.

Details as they relate to the specifics on education/training requirements, the definition of “experience”, documentation of installations and other qualifying factors are outlined on the NABCEP website and can be reviewed at this link: http://www.nabcep.org/certification/pv-installer-certification/requirements-education

The requirements above are strictly for solar PV installers.  The NABCEP also offers a certification program for solar thermal installation professionals as well.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

Entry Level Jobs in Solar Thermal Energy

August 24, 2011

Solar thermal energy is a technology for harnessing solar energy for thermal energy, otherwise known as heat.  Manufacturing for solar thermal energy can be done on a small scale without using expensive equipment, unlike photovoltaic technologies.  The most popular use for solar thermal energy is heating water, drying of crops and distilling water.  For someone who is interested in entering the green collared workforce solar thermal energy training could get you started in the right direction.

Phoenix, AZ based eRenewable Resource Institute is a certified solar training institution that offers hands on classes, all of which, will prepare the student for certification testing in their desired area of the solar energy industry.  For students interested in solar thermal energy training they begin by taking Intro to Solar Thermal & Solar Domestic Hot Water.   This course provides a fundamental working knowledge of the varied aspects of solar thermal collection and its use as a domestic heating source.  Preparing students to design, install, operate and maintain of the most common solar domestic hot water systems (SDHW).  This course also covers solar thermal site analysis, collector roof mounting, safety, code issues, as well as an overview of solar pool and solar space heating.

Additional classes and hands on labs are available to help students continue to increase their plumbing skills including a more detailed understanding of solar thermal pool and active space heating design/installation/operation.

When students are researching training facilities aside from the quality of content in the classes they should look for certified training centers that are ISPQ accredited* and NABCEP approved provider for the NABCEP Entry Level exam.  These will assist the students in guaranteeing they are eligible to sit for the exams they will need to gain certification.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

*ISPQ accreditation, issued by The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, is not a recognized accrediting body by the US Department of Education.

What is the Building Performance Institute (BPI)?

August 21, 2011

Being truly energy efficient means many interconnected facets have to come together for real environmental change to take place.  Major focus was dedicated to examining homes because it is where people “live” their day-to-day lives.  This is when the Building Performance Institute (BPI) came about.  BPI evaluates the energy use of America’s existing homes.  BPI identifies issues that cause homes to be less energy efficient.  It has established a series of standards for professionals to be able to identify these problems, perform standardized energy evaluations, and perform repairs or retrofits to bring problem areas up to standard code.

BPI’s philosophy is that the “house is system” and changing just one element will have an effect on one or more other systems in the home.  Therefore, having certified solar energy professionals who have been specifically trained to identify and repair these inter-connected systems will be key to having a truly energy efficient home.  The types of professionals a homeowner would be looking to hire would be BPI Analyst and Weatherization Technicians.

BPI training however does is prepare technicians to perform the “hands-on” work of evaluating homes.  This involves going into the home and conducting an exam to determine what alterations need to be made to meet BPI standards.  For the most part the BPI is not creating new standards for home energy use, it is just creating a certification system that will verify that existing ASHRAE and EPA standards are being met.  There is a strong emphasis on documentation, requiring that technicians be certified, requiring as-built drawings be made of the condition of the house after work is done, and that the energy performance of the home during its lifetime is documented.

BPI currently has standards for eight types of professionals. BPI created a new breed of “green collar jobs.”  Ideally, green collar jobs are jobs are accessible to a large number of people, they don’t require too much additional training, and they are jobs that cannot be “exported” because they require hands-on skills performed on-site.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

 

To Lease or Not to Lease Renewable Solar Energy Panels – Benefits and Risks

August 17, 2011

If a consumer is considering making a commitment to a solar energy company to lease the equipment and reap all the benefits solar energy has to offer they are in good company.  Many people are interested in doing this but have questions regarding the process and “what if” scenarios that could impact them in the future.  We decided to outline the more common and/or complex questions in an effort to assist in making this decision if leasing is the right choice for them.

Why lease instead of buying the system?

Very similar to deciding to buy or lease a car often times it comes down to cash in hand.  Many consumers do not have the money up front in a lump sum to purchase a solar system, so for many leasing is the only affordable way to benefit from the power of the sun.

How long in a lease commitment?

Typically a company will ask for a commitment of 10-20 years.

What happens if I have to move before the end of the lease term?

Each company will have their own contractual guidelines for this situation, however typically:

  • Leases can be assigned to new owner (subject to a credit check)
  • Seller can prepay the remaining lease payments and assign the lease to the new owners.
  • Purchase the equipment at fair market value and ask company to move it to new home.
  • Prepaying the remaining lease payments and have the system removed.

How much do I have to put down?

Many solar energy companies are offering these systems with no money down, but just like leasing a car, if you have money to put down it will only lower the consumer’s future monthly payments.

Ideally consumers planning to reside in the home for the duration of the lease it would be a win/win for both parties.  The only potential for complication that we can see is if the consumer needs to move out of the home for any reason and relocate. The consumer would have to hope the new owners were willing to assume the lease.  Either that or they would need to have the money to prepay the lease and hopefully take it to a new residence.  This could be costly if the consumer still had 10 years left on the lease.

Interested in entering the solar energy industry?  Whether you need training to become a BPI Analyst, Weatherization Tech, Solar Panel Installer or receive training in solar thermal and solar domestic hot water we have a program.  To begin your new career, start training with eRenewable Resource Institute.  Contact us at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

DOE Announces $967 million Loan Guarantee for World’s Largest Solar Facility Located in Arizona

August 12, 2011

In a previous blog post we talked about the pending funding for a facility located in Yuma, AZ called Agua Caliente Solar.  This week the U.S. Energy Department announced it was offering a $967 million loan guarantee to back a 290-megawatt solar plant in Arizona.  Steven Chu, U.S. Energy Secretary announced the loan would support the construction of a solar generating facility.  When the facility is completed, it would be one of the largest plants of its kind in the world and will bring hundreds of jobs to Arizona.

The Agua Caliente Solar Project will make use of thin film photovoltaic panels manufactured by First Solar. The project will deploy new technologies that have yet to be used on photovoltaic solar facilities here in the United States. These technologies, according to the DOE, will improve the reliability and predictability of electricity supplied from the site to the grid. Pacific Gas & Electric Company is just one of the companies that have agreed to purchase energy generated from Agua Caliente.

The market share for United States manufacturing the world’s supply of solar panels has decreased by 7 percent in the last year.  The Energy Department said the United States has been the industry leader since 1995, manufacturing 43 percent of the world’s solar panels. The SunShot program by the U.S. government has a goal to increase American innovations to reduce the cost of solar energy.

Agua Caliente Solar has already been acquired by NRG Energy from First Solar, when completed, for a reported $800 million. The DOE continues to support a wide variety of alternative energy project however the support for construction of the Agua Caliente Solar Project in Yuma County, Arizona is a big one.

Solar thermal training is being sought by many to learn how to become a BPI Analyst and Weatherization Tech or to learn how to install solar panels to become a member of this solar energy industry.  If you are wondering where to start with your training contact eRenewable Resource Institute at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

Solar Energy Panel Installer – The Job and What it Entails

August 10, 2011

We recognize that many people are in a position of needing to choose a new career path.  As they weigh their options against their current skill set it is important to understand the day-to-day tasks of a position to know if the interest to pursue a career is realistic.  Solar energy panel installers are responsible for installing solar panels onto rooftops of residential homes, commercial buildings, outdoor lighting systems, and anywhere else where solar panels are needed.

A solar energy panel installer will install either photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which convert the sun’s rays into electricity, or solar thermal panels, which capture the sun’s rays for usable heat. Fear of heights would not make a good fit for a solar energy panel installer, because for optimal results solar panels need maximum sunlight.  As a result they are likely located on rooftops and the tops of poles.

The first step is assessing the area where the solar panels will be installed to ensure there is enough room for panels and that the structure will withhold the weight and size of the solar panels. Structural framing will quite possibly need to be created and attached to the surface so the panels have something with which to attach to.  Finally a solar energy installer must connect the wiring of the panels to an inverter box. A licensed electrician must do the wiring. It would behoove an installer to also hold electricians’ licenses, but one can always partner with an electrician to complete the work.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics sources, there are an estimated 7,000 solar photovoltaic installers currently working in the US.  Many states and the national government continue to increase incentives for installing solar energy panels.  As a result the solar energy industry is expected to grow rapidly and opportunities for solar panel installers will increase. Workers with certification or more advanced qualifications, such as an electrician’s license, generally earn more. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports solar system installers with one to four years of experience can expect from $12 to $19 per hour, crew leaders earn an average of $20 to $25 per hour.

Solar thermal training is being sought by many to learn how to become a BPI Analyst and Weatherization Tech or to learn how to install solar panels to become a member of this solar energy industry.  If you are wondering where to start with your training contact eRenewable Resource Institute at 480 446-0400 or info@erenewableresource.com.

 

 


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