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PECO Gives OIC Philadelphia $100K To Grow New Training Program

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- OIC Philadelphia is partnering with a local utility company to launch a green jobs training program. There's also new proposed legislation designed to support the effort.

The $100,000 Energy Jobs for All Grant will be the seed money for a program that'll train roughly 100 individuals in skilled, high paying blue-collar solar jobs over two years.

"We want to fill the workforce pipeline with residents from the community as energy jobs become available," says Craig Adams, President and CEO of PECO. He says they want to ensure all communities benefit in the boon in solar, an industry that is reportedly growing 12 times faster than the U.S. economy.

"We want to ensure that traditionally underserved communities are included in the economic benefits of any new energy benefits that are created."

"Students will receive smart energy training and solar panel installation training," says Dr. Kevin Johnson, President and CEO of OIC Philadelphia, a non-profit founded by the late Rev Leon Sullivan. Over the past two and half years, he'd help to revamp the training available expanding the programs to include banking, energy and construction training. He says their goal is to tackle poverty by prepping low-income Philadelphians for jobs of the future.

"This is just the first step of imagining greatness," he says regarding the new program.

"Solar is seen as a luxury," says Donna Bullock, Esq, Pa. State Rep. She introduced HB 1799 with the goal of making solar available to low-income Pennsylvanians thereby creating job demand.

"HB 1799 will allow utility companies like PECO to own and operate solar sites throughout our Commonwealth," she says. "Solar energy has the potential to energize this economy."

The City of Philadelphia is also dedicated to growing the solar industry, launching a program called "Solarize Philly," which is providing innovative, cost efficient ways for city residents to go solar. The city reports that roughly 2,000 individuals have inquired about solar and several dozen have signed up. City officials report that 15 jobs in solar are created for every 100 installations.

The OIC Philadelphia PECO Smart Energy Training Program is set to kick off in January.

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