President Obama unveils 75,000 solar job initiative


President Obama continues to pursue his second-term legacy of action on climate change with a new program that aims to train U.S. military veterans for employment in the solar industry. A part of the initiative will see G.I. Bill funding being made available to the providers of solar training programs.

The Solar Energy Industry Association has praised the move adding that the solar industry is uniquely positioned to provide opportunities for the 200,000 military personnel leaving the armed services each year.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will roll out Solar Ready Vets. President Obama announced the program at the Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which supplies part of its electricity needs through a 210 kW solar array, coupled with a 2.25 MW landfill gas to energy system.

SEIA President Rhone Resch said that “with stable public policies in place” the solar industry will likely surpass the goal of 75,000 new jobs within solar by 2020. Currently SEIA figures reveal that the solar industry already employs 174,000 Americans.

“Record-breaking growth in solar energy installations nationwide requires a growing and skilled solar workforce,” said Resch. “We applaud the President and his administration for undertaking this new initiative, and we’re prepared, and excited, to do our part to help. We look forward to more and more of our military veterans becoming solar veterans, too.”

Energy solutions provider Ameresco designed and supplied the solar array located at the Hill Air Force Base and company President and CEO George P. Pakellaris said that he was excited to see President Obama unveil the program alongside the solar array his company developed and installed in 2009.

“We are delighted by the President’s announcement and the initiatives that will help create more jobs and sustainable projects, and we are proud to have the President visit this solar installation.” The President noted that the Hill Air Force Base is leading by example by tapping renewable energy for self consumption, including through its solar array.