Can anyone think of a better place for armed forces veterans to land than the explosive solar sector?
President Obama probably doesn’t think so. In early April, Obama announced an expansion of U.S. government efforts to train 75,000 Solar Ready Vets for the PV industry — which, it never gets boring to say, is adding jobs to the American economy at 10 times the national average. The President and Senate Democrats are lobbying for Congress to give the Department of Energy enough funding to double military solar training from 10 to 20 military bases, and counting.
The good solar vets news keeps on coming. As April ended, Vivint Solar announced that it’s continuing to recruit soldiers from Colorado Springs’ Fort Carson for the national effort.
Vivint added that it plans to offer additional courses for solar jobs at Norfolk, Virginia’s U.S. Naval Station, as well as Utah’s Hill Air Force base later this year.
“Solar Ready Vets includes an intense four to six weeks of photovoltaic coursework and training,” Vivint’s press release explained. “Each graduate gains the skills to size and install solar panels, safely connect electricity to the grid, and learns to interpret and comply with local building code requirements.”
“As an industry, we are completely committed to hiring more veterans,” explained Solar Energy Industries Association board member, Clean Power Finance CEO and U.S. Army veteran Nat Kreamer, in an announcement in support of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative. “Today, America’s solar energy companies already employ twice as many veterans as the average U.S. business. We hire veterans because they come trained, ready and passionate. The solar industry is filled with people who are motivated to build our economy, improve our environment and strengthen our national security.”
After decades of disastrous campaigns for fossil fuels abroad, working for the sunshine industry will feel like an overdue vacation for U.S. veterans. Unlike the oil and gas for which they fought, solar is America’s fastest growing renewable energy and can be channeled into immediate service from anywhere on the planet.
At last count, the U.S. military used $20 billion of energy annually, more than any American consumer, making it one of Earth’s perennial top polluters. And there is simply no way the U.S. military is going to downsize its oversized carbon footprint by 34 percent by 2020, as it plans, without exponential solarization.
Let’s hope the U.S. military’s mission to transform itself into a solar champion is accomplished sooner rather than later.
Army solar photo CC-licensed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District on Flickr.