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Solar programming shines at Virginia’s Community Colleges with support from Dominion

Above: Tidewater Community College and Dominion Virginia Power celebrate their commitment to solar power and community college’s role in preparing the workforce. Shown here are Jim Eck, vice president of business development with Dominion; Lisa Rhine, provost of Chesapeake Campus; Edna Baehre-Kolovani, president of TCC; Thomas Stout, dean of science, technology, engineering and math; student Harrold Craddock; and Max Bartholomew, regional policy director with Dominion.

A bright, sunny day beckoned guests to Tidewater Community College’s outdoor solar laboratory for a celebration and conversation about renewable energies.

TCC and Dominion Virginia Power representatives gathered with community members to talk about their commitment to solar power education and community college’s role in preparing the workforce.

two people install solar panels on a roof
Students in a renewal energy technologies class
work on installing solar arrays in the outdoor
laboratory on TCC’s Chesapeake Campus.

TCC is one of seven community colleges in Virginia providing technical training and know-how for students pursuing work in the emerging solar, wind and geothermal industries.

Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Virginia Power, has invested in solar training education by providing a grant of $150,000 to Virginia’s Community Colleges to advance program offerings.

TCC has been a front runner in renewable energies training, establishing one of the first Career Studies Certificate in Renewable Energy Technologies. In addition, the college offers the Solar Ready Vets program, which prepares transitioning sailors for work in the solar industry.

The Dominion Foundation began supporting these programs with a grant in 2010. The funding enabled the college to build and install the solar technology on top of the George B. Pass Building on the Chesapeake Campus. Subsequent grants in 2013 and 2016 have helped build the curriculum for alternative energy education.

“We’re grateful to the Dominion Foundation for its continued support of our solar programs,” said TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani. “It’s a big part of our mission to work with industry to provide training for emerging needs.”

representatives from TCC and Dominion pose for a group picture
The Dominion team with TCC representatives
including Max Bartholomew, Bonita Billingsley
Harris, Jim Eck, Edna Baehre-Kolovani,
Drexel Harris, Thomas Stout, Chimere Garland
and Cindy Balderson.

The Solar Foundation recently reported that 1 in every 50 new jobs in the U.S. in 2016 was affiliated with the solar industry.

“Having well-trained solar workers is critical to companies like Dominion as we venture into new ways of generating electricity for the Commonwealth’s 2.5 million electric customers,” said Jim Eck, vice president of business development at Dominion Virginia Power.

“We have trained renewable energy workers coming out of this program right now. And we need them right now,” Eck added.  “We’re partnering with Virginia’s Community Colleges to train a specialized, skilled workforce that’s never been seen before.”

Student Harold Craddock, a Navy chief who will soon transition to civilian life added, “Everybody needs to focus on renewable energy as it’s the way of the future. This program gives hands-on training on the proper way to install solar arrays, and shows us how to calculate everything to do the work correctly.”