The Engineering Division’s GreenPower program prepares participants for employment opportunities in the solar energy and electrical industries while also increasing the City’s generation of renewable energy and decreasing its carbon footprint. Each year the City hires applicants from non-traditional trades backgrounds as trainees to work alongside Engineering Division Electricians to install solar photovoltaic systems on City facilities. Over the course of the program the trainees receive classroom training in basic photovoltaics (PV) and safety along with on-the-job training performing each step of the photovoltaic system installation. The GreenPower program began in 2016 and has recently begun its sixth year with a new group of trainees who are starting the programs newest projects at the Madison Fire Department Stations 7 and 14.
Through 2020, there have been 16 total photovoltaic installations by the GreenPower program totaling over 813 kW DC. Each year the 16 systems will produce an estimated 1,000,000 kWh and offset an estimated 765 metric tons of CO2. 13 trainees total have completed the program through its first five years. Of those 13, 9 obtained full time employment opportunities after the program ended and 2 chose to return to school to pursue post-secondary degrees.
As an extension of the City’s GreenPower program Master Electrician Matt Parks and local partnering organizations have made two trips to Toa Baja Puerto Rico to help community members learn how to install photovoltaic systems. The first trip in 2019 was to install an 8.2 kW DC system on their Candelaria Community Center, which holds emergency supplies and also functions as an emergency shelter. During the second trip in 2020 they added a battery bank to the Candelaria Community Center system and also installed a new 7 kW DC system, including a battery bank, on the municipal police department. Both systems were installed by Toa Baja municipal employees and local technical college students receiving instruction from Matt Parks and two electricians from partnering organizations.