Groups team up to install clean energy and to help young people

By Jodi Delapaz

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WASHINGTON, July 7, 2016 - SunPower is donating 90 solar panels to the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, California, and Clean Solar is providing the installation services - with the help of students from the San Jose Conservation Corps. The Corps is a nonprofit that helps young people get their high school diploma - while learning valuable work and life skills - and providing them an opportunity to showcase their skills and work ethic to potential employers.

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SunPower says that the partnership is part of a larger story unfolding in clean energy that is “finding solutions to address climate crisis and income equality.”

"The biggest thing I was up against was making it out of the ‘hood,” says Ed Wiltz Jr., who as an 18-year-old first worked with Clean Solar through Solar Richmond, a federally-funded solar training program. “In Richmond (California), I didn't really see a lot of hope," says Wiltz. But five years after applying for an installation position with Clean Solar, Wiltz is on track to lead his own Clean Solar installation team.  

Wiltz' story is featured in the award-winning documentary, Catching the Sun, by director Shalini Kantayya, which is currently being shown in theaters across the country.

"We're really proud and excited to be a part of the team installing solar on Children's Discovery Museum,” says Clean Solar CEO Randy Zechman. “It's important to make local investments and give back to the community that we live in. Ed Wiltz is a great success story and he's part of our Clean Solar family."

To date, the San Jose Conservation Corps and Charter School programs have provided career-technical and construction/green building education programs for some 23,000 at-risk youth throughout California's Santa Clara County.

SunPower says the museum estimates it will save between $6,000 and $7,000 annually in energy costs, while the companies benefit from being introduced to potential new recruits.

"We're grateful for these donations from Clean Solar and SunPower. The panels will cover 50 percent of the costs to power the museum's Builder Building, and will be part of future environmental education programs," says Marilee Jennings, the executive director of the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose. "To see this project come together in support of the museum's environmental stewardship commitment, and also advance a job training program for disadvantaged youth, is incredibly rewarding for us."

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"The passion for innovation, creativity and discovery sparks at an early age," says San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "The partnership created today - among SunPower, Clean Solar, the San Jose Conservation Corps and Children's Discovery Museum -- gives us the opportunity to pique the interests of our youth, while also supplying renewable energy to the museum. In this way, we inspire passionate children and limit carbon emissions. Overall, it's a terrific demonstration of how partnerships help the city accomplish its goals in new ways."

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