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RNP Press Release
September 27, 2004

Solar Power Training Program Garners Heavy Support From Puget Sound Energy, Electrical Contractors and Unions

Training Center's New Photovoltaic Installation Bolsters Program Dedicated to Expanding Ranks of Qualified Designers and Installers in the Pacific Northwest

Renton, WA - The Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF), Puget Sound Energy (PSE), and the Puget Sound Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (PSEJATC) announced today the dedication of a photovoltaic (PV) or solar electric system on the PSEJATC's training center in Renton, Wash. The project, which is set to expand by five to ten kilowatts (kW) each year, up to 50 kW, provides an opportunity for apprentice and journeyman electricians to gain valuable, hands-on solar electricity design and installation experience as part of their training.

PSE and the PSEJATC both have well-established renewable energy programs with complimentary components, most notably PSE’s commitment to its green power program that helps support the delivery of energy from renewable resources, such as solar energy, and the PSEJATC’s 16-hour solar power Continuing Education class. Recognizing the opportunity to help advance the center’s solar electricity training opportunities, and provide the Pacific Northwest with more highly-qualified designers and installers, PSE agreed to fund half of the new PV installation’s costs and to provide a net metering system that enables the training center to send power back into the grid when the system produces more electricity than the center is using. This hands-on training program is expected to expand the use of solar technology in the Pacific Northwest by increasing the number of electricians qualified to design and install solar power systems.
"Since the dawn of the jet age, Renton and the Pacific Northwest have been a proving ground for innovation that changes the way we live," said Renton Mayor Kathy Keolker-Wheeler. "This exciting project demonstrates that Renton, and this region, is an ideal environment for the clean energy industry to take hold and grow. We applaud PSE, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 46, the Puget Sound Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the PSEJATC for their forward thinking and progressive approach to building market opportunities and business in our area."
Michael Richardson, manager of renewable energy customer programs with Puget Sound Energy added, "PSE is proud to take a leadership role in building the market for renewable energy in our service area and in the Pacific Northwest. We take an active role in promoting renewable energy through incentive programs and through opportunities such as this, where we can actively participate. It is gratifying to work with all of the partners here today that helped make this project possible. We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate IBEW Local 46 and the NECA, Puget Sound Chapter for their recognition of the importance this type of training has for their members, their impact on creating jobs and for their role in the development of the solar market here."
About the Installation
Initially, the solar electricity system includes 48 Sharp NT-185U1 modules, allowing for a peak capacity of approximately 9kW, expanding to 50kW over time. The installation serves as the foundation for what is expected to become the largest solar power installation in Washington State. The electricity produced by utility-connected solar power systems, such as the PSEJATC Training Center system, combines with utility power to supply the center’s electricity needs through what is called a "net metering" arrangement. When the system is meeting only part of the center’s total needs, the installed equipment automatically draws power from the utility to supply the center’s loads. When the system is supplying more power than the center needs, the equipment automatically supplies the excess power back to the utility system, and the center is credited for this excess energy at the full retail rate. An interactive kiosk located in the PSEJATC lobby will enable visitors to learn more about solar power, and to view the solar system production data in real time.
About the Project Partners
PSEJATC, operated by Local 46 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Puget Sound Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), owns the solar power system at the training center facility and will use the electricity produced by the system to meet part of the electricity needs at the facility. Class participation in the solar training program is expected to reach 60 to 80 apprentices and journeymen per year.
Puget Sound Energy provided funding for the project, collaborated on the interconnection of the system, and made available the net metering arrangement that allows delivery of any excess solar power back to the utility system.
The Apollo Alliance and the Worker Center, AFL-CIO are working with labor and business organizations and their affiliated training centers to support development of renewable energy and promote policies that link clean energy and good jobs.
The National Photovoltaic Construction Partnership, formed to support NECA and IBEW and their members in developing solar electric projects, supplied the Sharp Solar panels direct from the manufacturer.
The Bonneville Environmental Foundation supported PSE’s participation by providing project management services and public education and outreach for PSE’s renewable energy investment program.
About BEF
The Bonneville Environmental Foundation, a non-profit organization, was established in 1998 to restore watershed ecosystems and further the development and use of new renewable energy resources. Through revenues generated from the sales of green power products, BEF funds projects that restore damaged watersheds and support new renewable energy projects from solar, wind and biomass. BEF pioneered the sale of Green Tags in 2000 and has helped establish national standards for certification and trading. Created by regional environmental groups and the Bonneville Power Administration, the Foundation operates collaboratively with but independent of both.
About PSE
Puget Sound Energy is Washington state’s largest energy utility, providing service in 11 counties to 988,600 electric customers and approximately 655,000 natural-gas customers, at a growth rate above the national average.
The PSEJATC is operated jointly by Local 46 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Puget Sound Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and annually provides training for 2,000 journey-level electricians and 600 state-certified apprentices.
Photo 1)
Caption: solar electric system on the PSEJATC’s training center
Photo: Andrew J. Webber
Photo 2)
Caption: Installation of last PV panel, first phase PSEJATC
Photo: Andrew J. Webber
# # #
For more information contact:
Bill Jeppesen
Effective PR, Inc. for
The Bonneville Environmental Foundation
Bill Bowser
Training Director
425-228-1777 ext. 101
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