Solar panels, new jobs coming to Evansville community center

Updated: Aug. 28, 2020 at 5:37 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Community members gathered at Greater St. James Baptist Church to celebrate a new program called “Power Up.”

This program is focused on solar energy and teaching people about how it can better the planet.

To participate in the program, a community member must be underemployed, unemployed, formerly incarcerated, or between 18 to 25 years old.

Right now, four men are taking advantage of the program, and are getting a free online education through the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

Officials say this is a type of education that people of color rarely have.

”The project is very interesting,” participant Sydney Mobley said. “Learning how to save the climate and helping people with their energy bills with the pandemic going on.”

Mobley says this type of work isn’t new to him, but he’s happy to be continuing his education in the field.

”I use to build gas-lined air conditioners, and that was a more efficient thing for your home, and doing the solar will help a lot of people with their gas and electric bill,” Mobley said.

After they complete their education, the men will have an opportunity to do an internship that may lead to a job.

The NAACP also took time to announce the Greater St. James Community Center will be receiving solar panels. The panels will cut the center’s bills by 40%.

Officials plan to use the leftover funds to pour back into the community and upgrade projects. The center received the panels through the national NAACP organization, who awarded the local chapter a grant.

State officials emphasized the need for solar energy in minority communities.

“We did a grounding with our members on what transition looks like,” NAACP Indiana Environmental and Climate Justice Chair Denise Abdul-Rahman said. “Everything from electric vehicles, to stopping the planet from being overheated, to the affordability of energy.”

The project is scheduled to start on August 31.

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