South Burlington, Vt. (Oct. 8, 2008) The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300 and its Vermont Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee today announced an initiative that will teach union members to install solar photovoltaic systems. The announcement was made at a mid-morning press conference before a crowd of elected officials, business leaders and IBEW members.Beginning this fall, IBEW Local 300 will offer solar energy training as an enhancement to its existing five-year electrical regimen, which is mutually funded by union contractors and members through a collective bargaining agreement. Utilizing framework developed by the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, trainees will learn about the fundamentals, design and installation of solar photovoltaic technology through both classroom and hands-on components. The program is being jumpstarted by a $65, 263 Vermont Department of Labor Workforce Education and Training (WETF) grant and a $35,000 donation from Entergy Nuclear-Vermont Yankee, an IBEW employer that produces one-third of the state’s electricity.Without a doubt, solar energy systems should be installed by properly trained, licensed electricians. Our goal is to foster system-knowledgeable professionals in the electrical industry to meet the growing need vendors, electrical contractors and power utilities have for trained solar installers, said IBEW Local 300 Training Director Jean Watkins. We are very hopeful that our electrical contractors will secure solar work, whether working as subcontractors for Vermont’s existing solar energy systems providers or simply bidding projects themselves.IBEW Local 300 has planned for at least four eight-person classes per calendar year, with each lasting about 40 hours over 10 weeks at the unions state-of-the-art South Burlington facility. The union has also purchased three solar training arrays, two of which will be used for roof and pole mounting, respectively. The third array is part of a mobile solar trailer that IBEW members will soon build and continually maintain. All materials were purchased from a local business, Building Energy, and were assembled by IBEW members at a Sharp factory in Memphis, Tenn. We are excited to partner with IBEW Local 300 to deliver this important training, said Vermont Department of Labor Commissioner Patricia Moulton Powden. The IBEW solar photovoltaic systems project is the first WETF program that focuses exclusively on training for highly skilled green jobs that offer long term job security, strong wages and respect for the environment. This will help Vermont to continue to build green collar jobs.