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ComEd Reports Rise in Job Placements for Trainees

July 30, 2020
Future Energy Jobs Act training opens doors in growing clean energy sector

Underrepresented groups including residents of diverse environmental justice communities and returning citizens are securing jobs after completing training funded by the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) and implemented by trade and community groups, according to a new ComEd report. Enacted in 2016, FEJA is increasing ComEd customers' access to renewable energy and expanding energy efficiency options to create more savings.

The 2019 annual report submitted to the Illinois Commerce Commission reviewed progress of the Craft Apprenticeship Program led by the Illinois International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Renewable Energy Fund (IBEW REF), as well as the Solar Pipeline and Multi-cultural Job Training programs. In 2019, the three initiatives had a combined enrollment of 614 trainees. Ninety-four percent, or 577, completed the program and 443 secured employment – up from 285 in 2018. Participants accepted a broad range of positions, including solar panel installers and technicians, energy brokers, site surveyors and training instructors.

"Our commitment to powering Illinois communities goes beyond providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers," said ComEd CEO Joe Dominguez. "We are honored to partner on these programs with Illinois IBEW REF, numerous businesses and leading non-profit organizations to open the door for those who are ready to seize opportunities in the new energy economy in Illinois."

Sixty-three percent, or 384 participants, were people of color and 92 were female; 208 live in environmental justice communities where residents are exposed to potential environmental and health risks; and 71 trainees were returning citizens. The 2019 report profiles men and women who credit the program for helping them overcome hurdles and prepare them for success in the growing renewable energy field.  

In 2019, the IBEW program had 320 trainees and 292 secured employment after graduation.  IBEW training includes electric industry trades and skills, introduction to solar and "train-the-trainer" programs delivered to IBEW locals at high schools across Illinois. A solar program under development will be offered at select community colleges statewide.

The Solar Pipeline training program had 164 trainees, and 108 of those eligible were offered jobs after completing a program offering a solar bootcamp, lessons in power industry skills, alternative energy, OSHA regulations, financial literacy, math and career guidance. Solar Pipeline programs were implemented by Elevate Energy, Illinois Central College, OAI, Inc. and Safer Foundation.

There were a total of 130 participants in the Multicultural Job Training community and business programs. Seventy-five percent completed the community-based program, with 43 being offered jobs. The business program trainees had a 100-percent completion rate. The community-based programs were implemented by Chicago Urban League, National Latino Education Institute (NLEI), ASPIRA of Illinois and Austin Peoples Action Center (APAC). The program is also supported by multicultural business organizations, including Chatham Business Association and Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA).  

The grantees who receive funds and implement the job training programs have partnered with the Salvation Army, U.S. Probations and Parole, the Illinois Department of Human Services, aldermanic offices throughout Chicago and many social service organizations for recruitment of and outreach to potential participants.

The FEJA training programs are scheduled to run through 2029 and are supported through three successive $10 million funding periods. The first installment was made in 2017, and future payments will be made in 2021 and 2025. FEJA strengthens the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard through funding of $180 million per year and growing to $220 million per year for wind power, large-scale solar, and rooftop and community solar.

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