Workforce Boost for Solar Energy

Photo by Jack Kiyonaga

Molokai has a new batch of home-grown solar sales graduates.

“There’s a lot more to come, a lot more to build upon, but the goal is for everyone to seize this vision and make the commitment to renewable energy,” said Liliana Napoleon, Ho’ahu Energy Cooperative Molokai’s (HECM) project coordinator.

After completing a spring term course in collaboration with HECM, the ten graduates of the Clean Energy Solar Sales Training Course were recognized for the skills and knowledge they acquired at their graduation on June 10. The course focused on understanding the marketability and economics of solar systems as well as the technical features of solar installation. Throughout the program, students learned effective strategies regarding solar systems and sales, tips for pitches, and functional approaches to installing systems on-island. This nicely compliments previous HECM training programs which have focused primarily on engineering aspects of creating solar systems. With major solar energy projects planned for Molokai in the coming years, these graduates will strengthen Molokai’s own skilled solar workforce.

“The industry isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay,” explained Napoleon.

Students in the course worked in collaboration with the Oahu based Makaha Learning Center. Makaha President Duckie Irwin reflected on the promising potential of renewable energy on Molokai.

“Out of this space is going to come innovation, and out of this space is going come a model that so many other communities, similar to Molokai, can adopt,” said Irwin.

The integration of solar energy on Molokai possesses the potential for increased energy efficiency and employment opportunities, Irwin explained.

“Clean renewable energy is not just a better way to do things, it actually brings opportunity,” she said.

With the state of Hawaii scheduled to be 100 percent reliant on renewable energy by 2045, this course serves as a commitment to the promising future of solar energy for Molokai residents.

“Solar, to me, in its core is a means of empowerment,” said Todd Yamashita, a former president and instructor for HECM. “In that space there is a place to learn, but there’s also a place to lead,” he explained.

Solar energy is an increasingly present opportunity for careers, both nationally and here on Molokai. The accessibility of home-grown solar projects is critical for local residents going forwards, explained Napoleon.

“A career can be built in this industry from home. You can still have the balance of raising your family, extracurricular activities, lifestyle, but also be on the forefront of speaking up for a small community like Molokai,” said Napoleon.

Molokai residents can learn more about future opportunities for HECM workforce training at hoahuenergy.coop/workforce.


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