Chicago's largest solar installation brings renewable energy, jobs to South Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- If you pass by the headquarters of the Chicago Urban League at 45th Street and Michigan Avenue in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood, you may not notice anything new.

But at a bird's eye view, you'll see how it's changing the landscape of the neighborhood with solar panels installed on the roof of the building.

The Chicago Urban League started a solar job training program more than 3 years ago to expose people in the community to the growing field of renewable energy.

Andrew Wells, head of workforce development, led the charge.

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"We decided to take it a step further and install solar panels on the rooftop of the Chicago Urban League," said Andrew Wells with the Chicago Urban League.

The solar panels were officially unveiled Wednesday, along with a solar car port in the Urban League's parking lot, making it the largest solar installation project in the city.

Chicago Urban League President Karen Freeman-Wilson said this venture into renewable energy is a great opportunity.

"For business, for workforce for growth, for sustainability," said Freeman-Wilson.

National Urban League President Marc Morial was also on hand to lend support and said Chicago can be a model for other urban areas to invest in renewable energy.

"As we address climate challenge we face, we want people in our community to be front and center for the job opportunities," said Morial.

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People, like Johnie Simmons, will complete the training program in a few weeks and will be ready for a job installing solar panels.

"It was something new and I've been seeing it on social media platforms as far as this is the new wave, and I always want to do something new," said Simmons.

In addition to the carport, the Urban League will have two electric vehicle charging stations installed, furthering its commitment to helping the environment and community.
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