DOE, Defense Department seek to increase ‘solar-ready vets’

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense (DOD) have announced the expansion of a federal effort to train veterans for jobs in the expanding solar energy field when they leave the military.

President Obama recently announced that the “Solar Ready Vets” program will be expanding to 10 military bases across the nation. The expansion builds upon a successful pilot program that commenced at three bases in 2014: Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.

The program is tied to DOD’s “SkillBridge Initiative,” meaning the program is open to active military personnel who are within a few months of moving to veteran status. Trainees receive hands-on instruction using industry-standard equipment from master trainers.

The program covers a wide range of solar energy careers, including solar photovoltaic system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors and more.

There is no cost to participating service members. The five largest U.S. solar companies will interview the graduating trainees.

President Obama made the announcement at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

In an April 3 fact sheet, the Obama administration said that last year the United States installed as much solar every three weeks as it did in all of 2008.

“This week, the U.S. Army broke ground on a large-scale, 15 megawatt solar project at Fort Detrick in Maryland, enough to power nearly 2,500 homes for a year,” according to the fact sheet. “This follows the recent unveiling of an 18 MW solar array at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and the announcement of three 30 MW solar arrays planned for installations in Georgia.”

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, DOE said.

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.

Obama recently informed international governments that the United States is seeking to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. This summer the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to issue the final version of its Clean Power Plan. The EPA plan is designed to have states draft plans to cut power sector CO2 emissions 30% by 2030.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at