Obama to expand solar industry while supporting veterans with jobs

Solar energy farm.

Randy Montoya, Sandia Labs, flickr.

The new Solar Ready Vets program will advance the solar industry while providing jobs to thousands of veterans around the country.

President Obama announced a new program on April 3 that will advance the fight against climate change while creating thousands of new jobs—largely for veterans.

The program, called Solar Ready Vets, is expected to train 75,000 people to enter the solar industry workforce by 2020, with a specific focus on bringing more veterans into the industry.

The Department of Energy, in partnership with the Department of Defense, will be launching the program at 10 military bases around the country, including Hill Air Force Base in Utah, Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado and others. The program is tailored to the needs of fast-growing solar employers, and builds on the technician skills that many veterans have acquired during service.

The Wilderness Society supports this initiative because it takes an important step toward securing a clean energy future, ensuring that our environment and economies stay healthy.

Building on recent progress

The administration has already taken a number of actions to promote investment in clean energy sources around the country to help combat climate change. These developments have set the United States on course to meet our goals of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.

Since President Obama took office, solar electricity generation has increased 20 fold, and the solar industry is adding jobs at a rate 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.

Since 2013, the price of commercial and residential solar has decreased by 12 percent, driving more Americans to install solar panels on their homes and businesses while creating thousands of jobs in the process. Additional jobs have also been created through large-scale renewable energy developments on public lands.

Guiding solar development to smart places

Public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management have played an important role in securing a clean energy future. More than 50 large-scale projects have been approved since President Obama took office and major efforts are underway to plan for responsible development on public lands.

As these efforts continue to progress, it will become even more important to guide solar development to the right places by focusing development on low conflict areas—places that provide great solar resources without harming wildlands or sensitive wildlife habitat. Responsible development should seek to minimize negative impacts to wild places.

Focusing on developing large-scale energy projects in the right places in the right ways will be key to the success of these projects.

Learn more about finding smart places for renewable energy development