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Solar power training presented at Penn State Fayette

8/10/2010 —
People from around the country and the region have come together in Fayette County to take part in a solar power training opportunity. ONTILITY, a company that supports provider and consumer solar power, energy efficiency and weatherization projects, has brought its solar power training program to Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus.

According to Ken Whiteside, director of education for ONTILITY, “We were approached by a couple of local solar contractors who asked us to bring training to this area. The solar industry is growing rapidly in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the need for training in western Pennsylvania is also growing.”

Brian Cunningham, a solar trainer for ONTILITY, explains, “Most of the participants are people either looking for a career change or wanting to learn more about solar systems and their designs. There are people who want to be able to work on their own house and incorporate solar systems or even electricians who have been asked what they know about solar systems and they are coming to gain more insight and information to be able to pass on to their clients.”

Eric Tillman of East Stroudsburg, Pa., is going through the program so he can put himself into a position to start his own solar installation business. He says, “So far in the training the best thing I have learned was the dispelling of solar myths and rumors that people find online or hear from other people.” He, and others in the group, believe they have learned more than they initially expected.

Gerard Sabolek of Fayette County already has 32 years of solar experience under his belt, but
came to the training to get refreshed on his solar skills. Sabolek previously owned his own solar business in Arizona and is hoping to open a new residential solar business in the near future. “There are so many things that are different in the industry today from 30 years ago when I started. The most known change is the prices of photovoltaic panels have dropped and efficiencies have gone up,” he says.

“The energy industry is growing in leaps and bounds, not only in traditional coal but with Marcellus Shale natural gas, wind and solar power. This is a complete energy package,” says Joe Segilia, director of Outreach and Continuing Education at Penn State Fayette. “Penn State Fayette is pleased to work with companies to make our facilities available for training programs for Fayette County and the region. This is another example of how Penn State Fayette is establishing itself as an energy-focused campus within the University system.”
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