On the one-year anniversary the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), ComEd announced four organizations have been selected to develop and conduct solar pipeline training programs made possible through grants funded by FEJA. Elevate Energy, Illinois Central College, OAI, Inc., and the Safer Foundation, will receive a total of $3 million as a part of the first wave of FEJA funding to train individuals to work in the solar industry.
Passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Rauner one year ago on Dec. 7, FEJA allocates a total of $30 million to develop and implement a number of major energy job training programs. The $30 million in funding will be allocated in three $10 million increments paid in 2017, 2021 and 2025, and used to support job training programs over the next 12 years. As FEJA outlines, the solar pipeline training effort will focus on individuals who are from economically disadvantaged and environmental justice communities, alumni of the Illinois foster care system and Returning Citizens. The multicultural training grants totaling $4 million were awarded in November to the Chicago Urban League, Hispanic American Construction Industry Association (HACIA), National Latino Education Institute (NLEI), ASPIRA, Inc. of Illinois, Chatham Business Association Small Business Development, Inc. and Austin Peoples Action Center (APAC) and will target individuals from diverse and/or underserved backgrounds. The third program, a craft apprenticeship training program being offered through the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW), received a $3 million grant last month.
"ComEd is committed to helping grow renewable energy in Illinois and equally dedicated to developing the workforce of the future who will help integrate more clean energy like solar, into the Illinois energy grid," said Anne Pramaggiore, ComEd President and CEO. "The training programs that will be created by the organizations announced today will ensure that the next generation of energy workers is prepared to take full advantage of the opportunities created by a new clean energy economy. We are excited to see this part of the FEJA take flight and look forward to working with these partners to ensure success of these job training programs."
ComEd engaged the Chicago Community Trust (CCT), an Illinois foundation that works to transform lives and communities, to develop and administer a rigorous RFP process to evaluate proposed solar pipeline training grantees and their programs. CCT, with the help of a Technical Review Committee and Policy Review Committee made up of workforce development, energy markets, community development and organizational capacity experts evaluated all proposals. Grantees selected to receive funding were determined based on the following criteria: geographic reach, experience delivering workforce training programs and alignment with the goals of the FEJA legislation, including successful recruitment, training, and placement of trainees who are or were foster children and Returning Citizens.
As Peggy Davis, Chief Officer Programs and Strategic Integration at The Chicago Community Trust, remarked, "Our partnership with ComEd gives us the chance to support the workforce development goals of FEJA while helping Illinois pivot to a green economy. We are confident that the organizations we selected to receive financial support align well with our shared goal of building sustainable communities and an inclusive economy, especially among those who have experienced hardship." Funding for all three workforce training initiatives outlined by the FEJA – Multicultural Training efforts, a Craft Apprenticeship program, and now, Solar Pipeline training - will be disbursed before the end of this year.
The Future Energy Jobs Act was passed last December with broad bipartisan support from more than 200 businesses, labor, environmental, faith-based and other groups and became effective in June. The historic legislation will help create thousands of clean energy jobs, provides funding for job training and also will help jumpstart renewables in Illinois – setting the stage to grow enough solar and wind energy to power one million homes. In addition it will significantly expands energy efficiency programs, creating more than $4 billion in consumer savings and reducing the amount of CO2 in the air equivalent to removing 18 million cars from the road. Further, the FEJA contains significant programs for low-income communities and extends ComEd's customer assistance programs through 2021.