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Sierra College grant to boost solar-based economy

By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein
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Hoping to secure a position at the center of the growing green economy, Sierra College officials announced Wednesday a new program to train workers in the field of solar panels. The photovoltaics technician program will use a $470,000 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office to get off the ground over two years, officials said. The program, a partnership among private industry, the city of Roseville and Sierra College, will provide instruction in solar panel installation and maintenance. Officials envision up to 150 students enrolled in the program within several years. The joint project among the college, city of Roseville and private industry will ensure curriculum will be relevant to the technology and provide employers with employees who are trained and ready to go, Sierra College President Leo Chavez said at an event to announce the grant Wednesday. The fact that this helps with national security is just added frosting to this very delicious cake, he added. As part of the partnership, the city's Corporation Yard will serve as a hands-on classroom to instruct building inspectors and firefighters on the technology. The city of Roseville is pleased to support regional efforts to develop clean technology jobs, Roseville Mayor Jim Gray said at the event. Solar power is finding new converts as homeowners become more environmentally conscious. It's also benefiting from state mandates such as the Million Solar Homes initiative. On Wednesday, Gray touted the city's own efforts to promote alternative home energy generation, including the BEST homes program which seeks to ensure 10 to 20 percent of new homes integrate alternative energy technology. All of that means increased demand for so-called green collar workers to install and service the equipment. For the full story, see an upcoming edition of The Press-Tribune.