Obama administration announces solar and clean energy efforts

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 3, 2015 - At Hill Air Force Base in Utah today, President Barack Obama is announcing several efforts to drive growth in the solar industry while supporting America's veterans.

Last year, the U.S. installed as much solar every three weeks as in all of 2008. In 2013, the price of commercial and residential solar declined by more than 12 percent. This is driving more and more Americans to install solar panels at their homes and businesses, and is supporting tens of thousands of solar jobs across the country.

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The new efforts include:

-- Training 75,000 solar workers: The Department of Energy (DOE) increased its goal to train 75,000 people to enter the solar workforce by 2020, some of whom will be veterans. The previous goal of training 50,000 solar workers by 2020 was announced in May 2014. The new goal builds on DOE's SunShot Initiative's Solar Instructor Training Network, which includes 400 partnering community colleges across the country and has trained more than 1,000 certified solar instructors and nearly 30,000 students nationwide in the last five years.

-- Launching a Solar Ready Vets program: DOE, in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), is launching a Solar Ready Vets program at 10 military bases across the country, including at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which has already taken leadership by installing solar panels onsite. The program also includes participation from Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, all of which announced pilot initiatives earlier this year and are serving as models for the Solar Ready Vets program.

-- The Solar Ready Vets program will train transitioning military service personnel to enter the solar workforce by joining with SunShot's Solar Instructor Training Network and drawing upon the DOD's Skillbridge transition authority authorized by Congress in 2012. This accelerated training will prepare service members for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations.

-- Using the GI Bill for solar workforce training: The Department of Veterans Affairs is committing to working with DOE and State Approving Agencies to achieve approval for GI Bill funding for DOE's Solar Ready Vets initiative. Over time, this approval will enable more veterans across the country to use their GI Bill benefits to participate in this job-driven training program through local community colleges and learn the skills needed for good-paying jobs in the solar industry.

-- Educating veterans, service members about solar industry training opportunities: The Department of Labor (DOL), will work with DOD to ensure that transitioning service members learn of solar workforce training programs available to them in their last months of military service. In addition, to better serve unemployed veterans, DOL will partner with state workforce agencies and American Job Centers to better inform unemployed veterans about the opportunity to participate in available solar training.

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The administration says today's announcements will help set the U.S. on a path to achieve our target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, which the administration submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) earlier this week.

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