President Launches Solar Energy Job Training Program

WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Obama recently launched a new job training pilot program designed to train U.S. military veterans in solar installation. This program is a part of the president’s plan to advance solar energy, which is a core component of his overarching Climate Action Plan aimed at energy independence.

The White House recently issued executive orders that encourage solar energy utilization, which will cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons through 2030 and will reduce energy costs for homes and businesses by $10 billion.

This newest batch of federal initiatives accompanies a slew of commitments from states, communities and companies, all seeking to mitigate global climate change by cutting carbon emissions. Key federal, state and municipal initiatives include:

Job-Training Program for U.S. Veterans: The Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network plans to train 50,000 new solar installers by 2020. In the next few months, the Training Network will partner with three military bases with the goal of training about 90 service members “to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes,” according to the White House website. After the pilot program with active military personnel concludes, the program will expand to interested military veterans.

New Loans and Grants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: The USDA will invest $68 million in 540 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in rural areas across the U.S. The Rural Energy for America Program will provide funding for these projects and, according to the USDA’s website, “eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen, and geothermal.” A list of private sector recipients categorized by state can be found here.

Better Building Challenge: President Obama launched the Better Buildings Challenge in 2011 to help make American buildings more energy efficient. Led by the DOE, this initiative has received new commitments to improve energy efficiency from 28 states, cities and private sector businesses. The most recent commitments are expected to improve the energy efficiency of more than 400 million square feet of office space by 20 percent in the coming decade.

Better Buildings High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator: As a part of the Better Building Challenge, the High Performance Outdoor Lighting Accelerator initiative seeks to work with municipal governments to improve the efficiency of outdoor lighting. According to the White House website, the overall goal is to “replace 500,000 lighting poles by 2016.” Most recently, five new cities and regional organizations have joined this initiative: Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office, Southern California Regional Energy Office, Portland, Maine, and Flint, Mich.

Municipal Initiatives: In addition to federal initiatives, many cities have vowed to combat climate change as well. For example, the city of Beaverton, Ore., has promised to construct a 433 kW solar panel power system, and Charlottesville, Va. has announced its commitment to install more than 250 kilowatts of solar power in 2015.

Together, federal and state governments are working to improve energy efficiency and lower energy costs. A list of recent federal and state energy initiatives can be found on the White House website.