Increased interest on solar array systems calls for more qualified electricians

NECA/IBEW Local 48 in Portland, Ore., recently celebrated the addition of two solar arrays to the existing system on top of its training center building, bringing its total of functioning systems to three. A $12,000 grant from the Energy Trust of Oregon helped the training center purchase the equipment, which also includes a non-functioning array that’s built on a mock-up of a house’s rooftop to show students how to install an array on an angled roof as opposed to a flat roof.

As special incentives from the government and utilities are encouraging homeowners and businesses to install solar electric systems, Ken Fry, director of the training center, emphasizes the need for the facility. “Solar energy has grown rapidly over the last several years in both residential and commercial construction,” Fry says. “As solar power enters the mainstream, a need for local licensed electricians trained to make solar installation will continue to grow.” Since the solar installation training began in January 2002, 200 apprentices have finished the program.