We take environmental stewardship seriously at the Gainesville, Fla., Job Corps Center solar program.
In the past year, my students have installed 8 kilowatts of Photovoltaic panels on pole mounted racks and then tied them into the center’s internal grid to supply electricity. While not replacing all of our energy usage, these panels do lower our carbon footprint. We have produced 11,901 kilowatts so far and saved 12,158 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere through coal-fired power generation.
While not replacing all of our energy usage, these panels do lower our carbon footprint. We have produced 11,901 kilowatts so far and saved 12,158 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere through coal-fired power generation.
We also installed a solar-powered hot water heater to completely eliminate the need to use electricity to generate hot water for our shop and restrooms. We no longer have a tank of hot water that uses electrical power unnecessarily to reheat regardless of when we need it.
Gainesville Job Corps students take pride in the fact that not only are they learning an exciting, earth-friendly trade – they also get to put their skills to use while they’re still in the Job Corps program! As my student Wyatt Evans said, “It was exciting taking the solar class and I am proud to be involved with the renewable energy future of the United States.”
What is unique about the solar program is the satisfaction that students like Wyatt receive from installing and promoting the use of renewable energy both at the center as well as through projects in the community.
Through partnerships with local solar companies, students have installed panels at Littlewood Elementary in Gainesville and at the University of Florida’s School of Agriculture. Those installations are part of the Gainesville Regional Utilities Feed In Tariff – or “FIT” – program, which is a local utility payback program for electricity produced by solar panels. That means the elementary school and the University of Florida are getting paid to produce electricity via the panels that Job Corps students helped install, which ultimately saves taxpayer dollars.
While there are other trades that can be considered “green,” the Gainesville Job Corps Center is the only one in the region that offers this specific type of career technical training. However, on a national level, Job Corps is committed to the development of green job training and preparing students for successful careers in the green economy. All students who enter the advanced automotive manufacturing and machine repair or construction-related technical training areas will learn skills related to green technology and industry practices.
For the skills to build a career and a sustainable future, consider Job Corps.
Erick Green is a solar program instructor at the Gainesville Job Corps Center.
Editor’s note: Job Corps is seeking new applicants ages 16 to 24 for its national career training and education program at 125 campuses across the country. Residential and nonresidential slots are available for the self-paced federal program. This is an ideal opportunity to gain education, career training, and employability skills for eligible low-income individuals who may be looking for a steppingstone to a community college or for those who need additional support to pursue a community college degree.