The White House announced on Thursday, September 17th that it will begin a new initiative to train 50,000 veterans in solar panel installation over the next 6 years, beginning this fall on at least one military base. The new training program is among several other projects the White House is rolling out in an attempt to cut carbon dioxide emissions by over 300 million tons by 2030; this is equivalent to taking 60 million cars off the road for an entire year. The Obama administration also estimates that these efforts will save homeowners and businesses billions of dollars in energy bills.
Veterans’ contribution to the solar industry is nothing new. As many vets struggle to find employment that matches their high level of training upon their return to civilian life, the solar industry has been offering excellent pathways to employment. A joint report released in early 2014 from The Solar Foundation and Operation Free revealed that the U.S. solar industry employs 13,192 armed forces veterans. This means that veterans represent 9.2% of all solar workers in the country, a pretty impressive figure to consider. A large number of veterans perform installation, with many others serving as solar designers, engineers, project managers, solar photovoltaic installers or technicians, and more.
And the number of veterans in the solar sector is expected to keep growing: nearly 62% of solar companies who employ veterans reported that they plan to hire more solar workers within the year. Only 2% of companies intend to scale back on staff. The amount of solar itself in the United States has grown over 500% since 2008, so just imagine the possibilities and abundant job opportunities still to come.
Another great piece of news: today the White House also announced its plans to adopt more solar and other energy-efficient technologies. The Department of Agriculture will spend $68 million to fund 540 renewable energy projects in rural areas and farm towns–240 of these projects are for solar power. These actions, combined with commitments from companies, states, communities, and multi-family housing leaders, are part of President Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions in response to climate change.
Solar energy becomes more and more accessible each year. In 2013, the price of commercial and residential solar decreased by about 12%, prompting more Americans to install solar panels on their homes and businesses. In the first half of 2014, over half a million homeowners and commercial clients installed solar. CAM Solar is happy to see more people recognizing the incredible benefits of this technology, and we’re excited by our country’s plan to continue using solar to create jobs and save energy.