Illinois Partnership Launches Community Solar Workforce Training Center


Community solar owner and operator Summit Ridge Energy (SRE) is partnering with 548 Enterprise (548), an end-to-end sustainable development company, and Ecademy, a clean energy career school and Power52 company, to develop a Sustainability Hub in West Side Chicago to train over 10,000 local residents over the next 10 years.

The training targets veterans, returning citizens and high school educated residents from underserved communities. Upon completion of the 13-week (450 hours) program, participants will have the opportunity to complete their on-the-job training at one of SRE’s community solar projects in Cook County, Ill., as well as other clean energy projects throughout the state.

“I’m excited to participate in the clean energy job training program with 548, Ecademy, and SRE. The 13-week program will fast-track my career in a fast-growing industry and set me up with a good-paying job for years to come,” says Chris Davis, a program participant and West Side Chicago resident. “The Sustainability Hub will help bring thousands of good-paying jobs to the West Side and I’m proud to be part of it.”

During an event held earlier in December in Chicago, 548 and Ecademy announced their campaign to raise $20 million to support curriculum development, program resources and credentialing services for prospective clean energy professionals. SRE has committed $600,000 in seed capital over the next two years to launch the effort.

“Our $600,000 commitment recognizes the need to invest in workers on the front lines of the renewable energy transition and demonstrates our company’s mission to expand access to clean technologies,” states Steve Raeder, CEO of SRE. “By empowering hundreds of workers with the tools needed for a successful and fulfilling career in clean energy, we’re also providing a sustainable stimulus to Illinois’ economy.”

“Leading this initiative is a logical next step for 548 as we look to expand our community impact,” adds A.J. Patton, managing partner and CEO of 548 Development. “And ultimately, being able to leverage the expertise of SRE and Ecademy, to advance our mission of investing in underserved communities with renewable energy will let us do just that.”

“We are thrilled to expand our international footprint by bringing clean energy training to historically underserved communities right here in Chicago,” comments Rob Wallace, president and CEO of Ecademy, and co-founder of Power52. “We look forward to partnering with SRE and 548, to provide clean energy training to prepare our graduates for a green career. Not only will the trainees come from these underserved communities, the graduates will be designing, constructing, and maintaining the solar solutions that will provide clean, renewable, and stable power to their communities. For the community by the community!”

The first cohort of program participants will begin training in January 2023.

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