White House Announces “G.I. Bill For Solar Workers”
Property managers, landlords, tenants wrestling with improvements, regulators, buyers and sellers — take note. Solar is absolutely the energy future for the United States.
Last month the Obama administration put a significant amount of federal muscle behind the push to modernize buildings in the United States with energy solutions that get away from fossil fuels. What’s new in this development is the funding for training a whopping 75,000 solar workers – using veterans in large part to expand that workforce.
Veterans are an excellent source of expertise for this program for a special reason. The Defense Department has long understood that dependence upon fossil fuels creates a national strategic liability. It’s an ironic (and happy) fact that the people charged with protecting the US and its energy sources just don’t listen to the endless right wing noise machine that casts solar as some kind of elite tree-hugging plot instead of what it is — the future of energy.
- Training 75,000 Solar Workers: The Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing a goal to train 75,000 people to enter the solar workforce by 2020, some of whom will be veterans. This is an increase from the previous goal of training 50,000 solar workers by 2020 announced in May 2014. The new goal builds on the tremendous progress of 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 which announced pilot initiatives earlier this year and are serving as a model 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 leveraging the DOD’s Skillbridge transition authority authorized by Congress in 2012. Consistent with the Vice-President’s job-driven training agenda, the program is based on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers, is tailored to build on the technician skills that veterans have acquired through their service, and incorporates work-based learning strategies. Service members will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes. This accelerated training will prepare them for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations.
- Utilizing 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, where they will quickly learn the skills needed for good-paying jobs in the solar industry. Adding Solar Ready Vets will expand the existing network of programs providing service members and veterans opportunities to gain skills to enter the solar workforce through their GI Bill.