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Energy and Environment

Forums to Highlight New Energy Jobs

Solar panels shown on the roof of a home.

A pair of forums in southern Illinois this week are designed to highlight the job opportunities in alternative energy sources.

A new law in Illinois makes 200-million dollars available to build new solar and wind facilities in the state. So, the forums will offer community leaders ideas on how to bring in new energy jobs.
The keynote speaker will be Aur Beck of Advanced Energy Solutions. He helped bring solar energy to southern Illinois almost 20 years ago. Beck says solar energy jobs have grown 84 percent in the past three years. He says solar installers need to be part-roofer, part-electrician and part-contractor.
"It is a very diverse knowledge. Even if you're an electrician, you might not know how to install solar. Anybody who's in the trades can just basically add a little bit more knowledge and become a solar installer."
Beck says former coal miners are perfect candidates to become solar installers.

Beck says he doesn't foresee President Trump's support for the coal industry impacting the popularity of solar. In fact, he says the largest coal company in Kentucky just invested in a giant solar farm.
"Because they have to diversify to keep up with the new energy economy. Short-term maybe there'll be a slight uptick, but long-term, coal unfortunately can't keep up with solar economically."

Beck will be the keynote speaker at the forums Tuesday at John A. Logan College and Wednesday at Southeastern Illinois College. They run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. To register, click here.