ABOVE PHOTO: The graduating class of the Bright Solar Futures training program are honored.
City selects Frankford High School to host nation’s first high school solar program and honors recent solar graduates
School District of Philadelphia Superintendent Dr. William Hite and PECO Vice President and General Counsel Tony Gay joined the Philadelphia Energy Authority (PEA) to announce the selection of Frankford High School as the site for the nation’s first Solar Energy Program of Study and to honor the new graduating class from the Bright Solar Futures training program. This graduation was part of a weeklong series of events for Philadelphia Solar Week.
“The Philadelphia Energy Campaign is on track to create 10,000 jobs by 2026 and the graduates from the new Solar Program will be poised to step into those new positions,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. “I commend the graduates from today’s class who are now ready to become leaders in Philadelphia’s transition to clean energy.”
“The Bright Solar Futures class made me confident in my choice to study architecture when I start at Drexel this fall,”Kayla Brown, one of the Bright Solar Futures trainees, said. “I hope to use what I’ve learned about solar as a way to give back to my community as I start my career.”
“The Philadelphia Energy Authority is creating a win-win opportunity for the District by helping us complete energy improvements to our schools that save us money and create jobs, while training our students to step into those new jobs in the clean energy sector,” Hite said. “Congratulations to this new class of Bright Solar Futures graduates, and we look forward to building on this success by offering a new Solar Program of Study to our Career and Technical Education students starting in Fall 2020.”
“I am thrilled that Frankford High School is on track to be the first high school in Pennsylvania to offer a Solar Energy program of study,” added Dr. Michael Calderone, principal of Frankford High School. “This will give my students the option to continue their studies in solar and other renewable energies at the college level or jump right into a career with continued opportunities for advancement.”
Mayor Jim Kenney signed a new solar rebate into law which provides an additional incentive payment from the city for solar installations. All residential and commercial solar projects installed after July 1, 2019 will be eligible to apply for the rebate, which will begin accepting applications in January 2020. The incentive payment will average $1,000 for a typical residential installation. Philadelphia City Council designed the new rebate in light of the fact that the federal Investment Tax Credit for solar starts stepping down after 2019. This credit is the most significant subsidy available for solar, cutting the cost by 30%.
PEA has trained 70 high school students in solar installation since 2017 in partnership with Solar States, the Energy Coordinating Agency, FAVOR, the Philadelphia Education Fund, and the Philadelphia Youth Network. In 2018, PEA was selected for a $1.25 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to implement “Bright Solar Futures,” an initiative to establish the nation’s first Solar Energy Program of Study for high school students. PEA is supporting the School District of Philadelphia to secure approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to kick off this new three-year curriculum for an inaugural class of 10th grade students in Fall 2020. PECO was an initial sponsor of PEA’s solar training programs and will be contributing funding toward the construction of a new Solar Lab at Frankford High School.
“We’ve developed the Bright Solar Futures program to ensure there is a well-trained solar workforce as Philadelphia’s solar development continues to grow,” said Emily Schapira, executive director at the Philadelphia Energy Authority. “With the City’s new rebate, the federal tax credit and discounts through Solarize Philly, 2019 is the year to go solar in Philadelphia.”
Solarize Philly is a citywide program to help Philadelphians go solar. Since 2017, more than 5,500 Philadelphians have signed up for a free solar assessment through the program, and 459 have signed contracts at the discounted prices made possible by this group-buying initiative. Any Philadelphia homeowner or business can sign up for a free solar assessment at www.solarizephilly.org until September 30. Philadelphians will have the opportunity to see solar homes across the city as part of PEA’s Solar Home Tour that will take place on Saturday to conclude Philadelphia Solar Week. Find details at: solarizephilly.org/events.
Solarize Philly is part of the Philadelphia Energy Authority’s Philadelphia Energy Campaign, a $1 billion, 10-year investment in clean energy launched by Council President Clarke in 2016 to create 10,000 jobs by 2026. PEA released the second annual report of the campaign on Monday of this week, announcing that it has facilitated over $100 million of investment and created nearly 1,000 jobs in the initiative’s first two years. The announcement occurred at Northeast High School, one of the buildings that has received an energy makeover as part of the campaign. Learn more at: www.philaenergy.org.