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IBEW Local 441 electricians installed a 25-kilowatt solar photovoltaic cube, composed of 454 solar modules, at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California

Part 1:  IBEW Skills Help Power New Generation of Electrical Energy Projects

June 2001 IBEW Journal

In sunny downtown San Jose, California, a newly constructed solar-powered building is gaining wide media attention and public praise. IBEW Local 332s new union hallhailed as featuring San Joses first large commercial solar electric system installationis in the public spotlight. Local 332s new solar-powered building is typical of many IBEW union halls and training facilities across the United States and Canada featuring building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems installed by IBEW members highly trained in this field.

A source of renewable energy, solar photovoltaics (PV) is a rapidly advancing, up-and-coming technology that will generate scores of future new jobs across North Americaand the IBEW is ready and eager to get in on the ground floor of this anticipated development. Solar PV technology has made great strides over the past 20 years, having effectively doubled in efficiency. Construction of solar-powered buildings has already taken off in Europe and Japan, and North America likely will follow.

Buildings in the 21st century will rely on renewable resources to produce some, and eventually all, of their own energy, IBEW Director of Construction and Maintenance Mark Ayers told delegates gathered for the IBEW Construction Conference on March 31, 2001. One of the most promising renewable energy technologies is photovoltaics, a truly innovative means of producing electricity on site, directly from the sun. There is a growing consensus that distributed PV systems that provide electricity at the point of use will be the first to reach widespread commercialization. Chief among these distributed applications are PV power systems for individual buildings. Interest in the building integration of photovoltaics ... is growing worldwide.

Constructed by skilled IBEW members trained in state-of-the-art photovoltaic electric installations, the San Jose union hall and others like it showcase the role of the IBEW in the field of solar electric technology at a time of acute energy crisis in California and soaring energy costs across North America. IBEWs deployment of solar power at its new San Jose facility illustrates that our organization is very committed to a responsible approach to energy efficiency, said IBEW Local 332 Executive Board member and Project Coordinator Jay James. ... And as solar power is increasingly adopted, our facility will serve to educate our members about solar electricity opportunities and installations.

Additionally, IBEW electrician graduates of an National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) solar training certificate program have installed BIPV solar systems on major public and private buildings across the United States.

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