Solar Training Academy early registration now at Kankakee Community College


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Beginning in January, Kankakee Community College is hosting a course that provides skills in the emerging field of solar installation.  The Solar Training Academy meets on four weekends between Jan. 25 and March 28. The weekend format is designed so most students can attend without missing school or work.

Students start with Basic Photovoltaics and by the end of the series of courses, are qualified to take the NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners®) Associate Level Exam. The certification “recognizes individuals who have demonstrated knowledge of the fundamental principles of the application, design, installation, and operation of Photovoltaic systems,” according to the NABCEP website.

There are no prerequisites to attend.

“People who take this class are either looking to get into the field due to career change, or to expand their business into renewable energy,” said Clay Sterling, who is the lead instructor for the course.

Sterling worked for the MREA in Wisconsin for 16 years, including 14 as an instructor. He moved to Illinois to teach at KCC.  At his home in Wisconsin, he lived in an off-grid home for over a decade, using a combination of solar and wind electric to meet electrical and heating needs of the home. 

“There are several large scale solar installations as well as smaller systems going up in this region. As a result, there are not enough skilled people to fill all the job openings. This training, as well as KCC’s traditional degree route, is working to fill the gap with trained qualified people.”

The Solar Training Academy is offered by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, a non-profit which promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. It does not award college credit.

The class is being held at KCC’s new Advanced Technology Education Center, located on the college’s Riverfront Campus. The center itself is a model of sustainable resources, and has attained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold status from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We provide our Solar Training Academy in various locations across the Midwest in order to reach as many students as possible,” said Greta Ladenthin, training manager of the MREA. “Kankakee Community College’s new state-of-the-art facility is the perfect setting for our training. The students get an opportunity to see an installed system, seeing the technology in action is such a benefit.”

A classroom with an adjacent solar panel assembly lab will be the primary location for the class. The ATEC rooftop solar array will be used for demonstrations during the class.

“In three weekends you walk away with resume building training and an increasingly sought-after solar credential valued by the industry,” said Greta Ladenthin, training manager of the MREA. The fourth weekend of the class is dedicated to the certification exam.

The training at KCC is one of two Illinois sites where MREA is offering the course. The early bird registration period ends Dec. 1. Registration continues until Jan. 21. More information is at


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