Today (April 3) at Hill Air Force Base in Salt Lake City, Utah, President Obama announced a plan with the Department of Energy and community colleges across the nation to train 75,000 people to work in the solar industry. This will include training aimed specifically at veterans as well as others.
The President made his remarks at a solar panel installation on the base. “It is getting about 20 percent—maybe a little higher than that—of its overall energy through renewable energy sources, including this installation,” he said. “Our military across the board, is becoming more and more efficient because that saves money. And it means that we’ve got more money for personnel, for training, for equipment, for making sure our fighting forces are able to get the job done.”
Obama observed that the renewable energy industries have seen sharp increases since he was elected president. “Solar electricity has gone up twentyfold,” he said. “Our investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency haven’t just helped to cut carbon pollution, they’ve made us more energy independent. And they’ve helped us create a steady stream of high-wage, good-paying, middle-class jobs.
“The solar industry is actually adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy,” Obama added. “They’re paying good jobs—they’re good-paying jobs that are helping folks enter into the middle class. And today what we're going to try to do is to build on the progress that’s already been made,” he remarked.
To help keep those jobs growing, Obama announced an effort to increase employment in the sector. “I’m announcing a new goal to train 75,000 workers to enter the solar industry by 2020. As part of this, we’re creating what we’re calling a “Solar Ready Vets” program that’s modeled after some successful pilot initiatives that have already been established over the last several years. It's going to train transitioning military personnel for careers in this growing industry at 10 bases—including right here at Hill.”
The Solar Ready Vets program, which launched at a number of bases including Camp Pendleton in Virginia and Fort Carson in Colorado, will bring the pilot program to fruition. Hill Air Force base is among the 10 that will train veterans under the program.
The training program expands on the Energy Department’s SunShot Solar Instructor Training Network. It previously had the goal of training 50,000 solar workers by 2020.
“This new initiative will provide a big boost to the U.S. economy, while also helping to maintain solar energy’s explosive jobs growth,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “With stable public policies in place, we will not only meet the President’s goal of adding 75,000 new solar jobs in America by 2020, but we will blow past it.”
“With approximately 200,000 U.S. servicemen and women leaving the military each year, much more needs to be done to help them find civilian jobs and meaningful workforce training,” Resch said. “Record-breaking growth in solar energy installations nationwide requires a growing and skilled solar workforce.…We look forward to more and more of our military veterans becoming solar veterans, too,” Resch added.Tweet