A municipal program in the US capital aims to equip youths from underserved communities with the skills to build a career while bringing the cost savings of rooftop solar to low-income residents.
It was June 29, and Dexter Rawlings had finished his first day of on-the-job training, installing solar panels on the rooftops of Washington. After hours under the unforgiving summer sun, he arrived home, exhausted. But an email was waiting for him with an encouraging message: The work he had done was projected to save local homeowners more than $11,000 in energy bills over the lifetime of the panels.
“I screenshotted it and posted it on my Instagram to show everybody what I was doing over the summer,” Mr. Rawlings says.
Rawlings, 24, is a D.C.-native, though he grew up in a foster home in nearby Maryland. This summer, he was a member of the first cohort of Solar Works DC, a partnership between the city and the nonprofit GRID Alternatives that trains workers for solar jobs. Many of the participants come from Washington’s poorest areas, and over the next three years will be paid to install solar panels on 300 low-income homes. By 2032, the District aims to install solar on 100,000 low-income residences.