Renewable Energy Partners (REP) is a Minnesota Minority Business Enterprise founded by Jamez Staples to develop solar energy and clean energy projects. Staples has a vision to bring green jobs and career skills training to North Minneapolis where he grew up and still lives today.
After realizing that there was little access to skills training in solar energy or other energy fields for inner-city residents, REP purchased the 22,000 square foot former state workforce center in North Minneapolis in December 2017. REP began fundraising and building partnerships for a training center in energy, water system and other sustainable technologies, focusing on students and young adults.
Five years later, those partnerships paid off as the state's legislature's Commerce and Energy Conference Committee funded the energy training center with $2.5 million.
The training center will work with LEAP (Learn & Earn to Achieve Potential) and its 12 alternative education facilities, part of Project for Pride in Living. LEAP works with youth who are homeless, in foster care, or in the juvenile justice system to earn a secondary credential.
REP’s new facility will be the only training space in the Twin Cities region certified by the Building Performance Institute for skills training and certifications in energy efficiency and building science. Accessible by public transit, the training center will expand access to training for urban residents, help build a more diverse workforce, and ensure that communities of color receive an equitable share of the benefits from Minnesota’s transition to a clean energy economy.
REP is poised to make significant green facility enhancements that serve as on-site teaching tools, including rooftop solar with battery storage, building electrification using ground source heat pumps, EV charging stations, and stormwater management. A unique solar power storage system created with the Energy Transition Lab at the University of Minnesota will model a solar microgrid and peer-to-peer energy sales, the first demonstration of its kind in the nation.
Before year’s end, the center plans to have training programs available in solar energy, EV charging, green infrastructure and energy efficiency.
More information: Renewable Energy Partners