Farmworkers Install Solar Photovoltaic Systems

Cindy Zimmerman

New Mexico farmworkers are receiving green job training installing solar panels, according to the Association of Farm Worker Opportunity Programs.

HELP-New Mexico, a statewide community-based organization headquartered in Albuquerque, helped prepare a group of farmworkers to obtain certifications that will provide them with the skills, knowledge, and ability to work together with journeyman electricians to design and install solar panel systems. The 48-hour training culminated over the weekend with a hands-on solar panel installation of a system on the homes of two low-income families in Berino, New Mexico.

“The class has provided workforce participants, many of whom are currently unemployed and/or underemployed, with a way to enhance their skills in targeted industries and provide them with a “leg up” in the job market”, states Roni Spetalnick, Southwest Regional Manager, HELP-NM.

Classes began on November 15, 2011, at the El Paso Electricians Apprenticeship Training Facility where a journeyman electrician/trainer helped prepare the New Mexico trainees to take the entry level North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification exam. Last Saturday, the trainees used their new skills to install solar systems on two homes built by Tierra Del Sol Housing, a nonprofit agency that builds affordable homes for low income individuals. They worked under the guidance and direction of a local solar installation company, Border Solar.