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Assabet Valley: 'Solar Energy is Here to Stay'

Students install solar panels for residential and commercial use.

Submitted by Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School

“To date, Massachusetts has not added instruction in photovoltaic (solar energy)
to the mandated curriculum across the Commonwealth," said Tom Martinelli, lead instructor in the Assabet Valley Electrical Wiring program, "but obviously solar energy is here to stay. We’ve decided not to wait for the mandate, but to be proactive on this.

With the help of Quinsigamond Community College, one of the school’s many higher education partners, and New England Clean Energy, a Hudson company, students will be given training in designing and installing solar panels for both residential and commercial use. Driving around the school last year, many questioned the activity on a strip of land adjacent to the driveway and across from the wiring program. Initially the land was cleared and leveled, and then the House Carpentry students began construction of a large tilted platform. It wasn’t until Matt Robichaud, an electrician from New England Clean Energy, arrived and the installation began that it became obvious to all that it was a solar farm.

It is no coincidence that Robichaud looked completely at home as he was helping the students throughout the process, as he is a former Assabet Electrical Wiring grad. In fact, most of the personnel at the company have a tie to Assabet Valley.

“Jonathan Williams, one of the partners in the company, and Vice President of
Installation and Service, graduated fifth in his class from Assabet Valley and
earned both his Journeyman and Masters Electricians Licenses before he was
23 years old. He has maintained an excellent relationship with the school, and
sits on our Advisory Board,” added Martinelli.

Students will learn all the facets of photovoltaic design, installation and repair,
and can use the solar farm as their training ground. “Now we just have to hope
for lots of sunny days,” joked Martinelli.

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