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Solar Electric Classes Attract Participants from Across Kentucky

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Sep 12, 2011 02:48 PM

By Andy McDonald, Director, Kentucky Solar Partnership (A KySEA member)

In August the Kentucky Solar Partnership hosted four days of trainings in Frankfort on solar photovoltaic system design and installation. Thirty two participants attended the first two-day class, “Introduction to Solar Photovoltaics.” Eighteen participants stayed for day three, “Solar Site Assessments and PV System Design,” and fourteen people attended the final day, “PV and the National Electric Code.” The classes were taught by Chris LaForge of Great Northern Solar, a NABCEP-certified solar PV installer and an ISPQ-certified PV instructor.

Chris LaForge Instructing Solar Classes

Instructor Chris LaForge with students outside KSP's Solar Trailer

Our participants included electrical contractors, solar electric contractors, recent college graduates, engineers, and others exploring solar energy as a potential career path. Two students from the University of Louisville will use the knowledge they gained as they help design U of L’s entry in the international Solar Decathalon solar home design competition. Four participants will receive Continuing Education Units from the Kentucky Office of Housing, Buildings and Construction to support their electrician’s licenses.

Our participants came from a wide geographic area, ranging from Paducah to Prestonsburg to the Cincinnati Metro area. One person came all the way from Missouri and another from Evansville, Indiana.

andys solar home

Andy McDonald discusses his home's solar PV installation

On the second day of the training the class made a field trip to my home to view my recently-installed grid-tied solar PV system. This five panel, 1.125 KW array is a ground-mounted, battery-free system that was sized to meet 100% of my family’s annual electricity needs. Participants also had a chance to view KSP’s Solar Trailer, which demonstrates an off-grid, battery-based PV system. The chance to view operational PV systems in real-world applications was a highlight of the trainings for many participants.

Chris LaForge and Solar Pathfinder

Chris LaForge explains how to use a solar pathfinder

Nine of our participants were able to attend thanks to financial support offered by MACED (the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development). MACED supports the development of small businesses in eastern Kentucky and has a special emphasis on supporting sustainable energy enterprises. In addition to financial assistance to attend ASPI’s workshops, MACED also offers financing for business development investments, “energy microloans” for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments for eastern Kentucky businesses, and technical assistance to building trade contractors. MACED also has a Certified Energy Manager on-staff to provide energy consulting.

Coming up in October KSP will be hosting a five-day, hands-on installation training. Many of our participants from August will be returning to gain hands-on skills as we install an off-grid solar electric system on a mobile trailer. Registration for the October workshop is already full.

To learn more about MACED’s Energy Efficient Enterprises project, contact Elizabeth Graves at 859-986-2373 or egraves@maced.org.

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