New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ Community Solar Energy Pilot Program Empowers Solar Providers to Support Communities with Access to Clean Energy and Provide Job Opportunities Across the State
JULY 21, 2021, ASBURY PARK – Solar Power World, the premier media outlet for the U.S. solar market, has named Solar Landscape’s Director of Community Engagement Kate Gold its 2021 Top Solar Changemaker for her impact in workforce development.
Solar Power World made the announcement during its July 19 Virtual Gala honoring the magazine’s 2021 Solar Champions. There were five individual awards presented among more than 400 companies that were ranked.
As Director of Community Engagement at Solar Landscape, Gold oversees the company’s job training and renewable energy education initiatives. Under her leadership, Solar Landscape provided solar installation career training to more than 150 New Jersey residents. She was also instrumental in establishing Solar Landscape’s Green Ambassador Program (GAP) for New Jersey high school and vocational/technical school students, which enrolled more than 200 students and will award $20,000 in first-year college scholarships.
“I am honored to be recognized by Solar Power World for the work we are doing at Solar Landscape,” said Gold. “Thanks to Governor Murphy, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and many others, New Jersey’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program is delivering residents of historically marginalized communities with cleaner air, lower utility costs and job creation. We are thrilled with the impact we are having in local communities and look forward to even more progress in the future.”
Solar Landscape: Leveraging New Jersey’s Community Solar to Train a Clean Energy Workforce
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Community Solar Energy Pilot Program has enabled Kate Gold and Solar Landscape’s new Director of Workforce Development, Todd Menadier, to begin training a workforce to support New Jersey’s clean energy economy statewide.
Gold collaborated with the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges and its Energy Pathway Collaborative to address the educational needs of the growing clean energy workforce. In addition, Solar Landscape continues to provide in-person career development and green energy education sessions to New Jersey high schools.
Her leadership in workforce development also positions Solar Landscape to do even more to train New Jerseyans in the clean energy sector – both for its own recruiting and the industry overall. The company is working with Parsippany-based roofing manufacturing company GAF to integrate commercial solar curriculum into its popular Roofing Academy and in-person trainings.
Solar Landscape and GAF are providing solar installation and roofing industry training at locations throughout New Jersey. The companies conducted training in Perth Amboy in July and have upcoming in-person trainings in Asbury Park, Pennsauken, Trenton and Woodbridge Township.
Solar Landscape also sponsors a PSE&G Institute for Sustainability Studies Green Team. The company mentors and trains a team of five local college students who are given educational materials about sustainability and community solar that enable the students to immerse themselves in different facets of New Jersey Clean Energy Policy. Solar Landscape’s Green Team was tasked with finding new and creative ways to engage with New Jersey communities through its community solar projects.
Dover resident and current Solar Landscape employee, Yvette Viasus, was hired by Gold after she participated in its online solar energy curriculum. A bi-lingual graduate of Montclair University and a former intern at PSE&G’s on-campus Sustainability Institute, she works with Gold’s community engagement team.
“I was fortunate to meet Kate Gold and become involved in the Solar Landscape training program,” said Viasus. “Through Kate’s vision, we are creating a new generation of workers who can contribute to New Jersey’s renewable energy future.”
Solar Landscape’s community engagement and workforce development strategies were inspired by the New Jersey Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, established by Governor Murphy through Executive Order 28 in 2018.
In January, these strategies came to fruition when Governor Murphy joined executives from Solar Landscape and Duke Realty in Perth Amboy to celebrate Solar Landscape’s completion of the first community solar projects energized in New Jersey. Solar Landscape’s two new projects at the Duke Realty facilities will power more than 1,200 local homes with clean solar energy, 50 percent of which are low- to moderate-income households. These projects were made possible through partnerships with the City of Perth Amboy, the local housing authority, and the Jewish Renaissance Foundation (JRF), a non-profit, non-sectarian organization.
“Kate’s innovation and hard work are helping address a critical need in New Jersey for trained solar installers,” said Shaun Keegan, Chief Executive Officer at Solar Landscape. “The Solar Landscape team is excited to celebrate Kate’s achievement and proud to be recognized as New Jersey’s leading commercial solar developer in the Solar Power World Top Solar Contractors list.”
Solar Landscape Ranked Top New Jersey-based Commercial Solar Developer
In addition to Gold’s award, Solar Power World also listed Solar Landscape as the top-ranked New Jersey-based commercial solar developer and number 16 nationally. Solar Landscape has completed construction on a total of seven New Jersey community solar projects, all of which were built during the pandemic.
"Not even COVID-19 closures and slowdowns could prevent the solar industry from installing fantastic numbers last year," said Kelly Pickerel, editor in chief of Solar Power World. "The Solar Power World team is so glad to recognize over 400 companies on the 2021 Top Solar Contractors list that not only survived a pandemic but thrived in spite of it."
The Top Solar Contractors list is developed each year by Solar Power World to honor the work of solar installers in the United States. Solar firms in the utility, commercial and residential markets are ranked by number of kilowatts installed in the previous year. Companies are grouped and listed by specific service, markets and states.
About Solar Power World
Solar Power World is the leading online and print resource for news and information regarding solar installation, development and technology. Since 2011, SPW has helped U.S. solar contractors — including installers, developers and EPCs in all markets — grow their businesses and do their jobs better.
About Solar Landscape
Based in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Solar Landscape is a leading provider of comprehensive solar photovoltaic system solutions to the commercial/industrial, municipal, public school and non-profit marketplace. Solar Landscape’s Workforce Development Program is designed to help educate, train and employ New Jersey residents for careers in the rapidly expanding solar workforce. Solar Landscape has completed construction on seven community solar projects totaling more than 17 megawatts of capacity as part of Year 1 of the NJBPU’s Community Solar Energy Pilot Program; and construction on an eighth Year 1 project is expected to be completed before the end of 2021.
New Jersey residents in select locations can sign up to use renewable energy without installing solar panels at www.gosolarlandscape.com.