Yesterday I had the privilege of speaking before more than 3,000 people at the Solar Power International 2009 conference. This crowd was energized and excited by the possibility of a clean energy economy!
I told them we have a choice to make: we can remain one of the world's leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments needed to become the world's leading exporter of renewable energy.
The President knows what the right choice is. That’s why he is making investments in energy efficiency and clean energy –to lead to a more prosperous economy in the future.
Through the Recovery Act, President Obama is investing more than $80 billion in clean energy. This money is putting tens of thousands of Americans to work in developing new battery technologies for hybrid vehicles, making our homes and businesses more energy efficient, doubling our capacity to generate renewable electricity, and building a smart, strong, and secure electricity delivery system.
The excitement about the possibilities being made through the Recovery Act was palpable. I even spoke to the leaders of several companies who are eager to hire workers trained with Recovery Act funds and to grow our economy.
Earlier yesterday, the President also announced 100 grants totaling $3.4 billion to private companies, utilities, cities and other partners to help build a nationwide smart energy grid. These grants are expected to create tens of thousands of new jobs, and also help us make a leap forward in building a clean energy infrastructure that brings clean, reliable, low-cost energy sources to American homes and businesses.
At the Department of Labor we are doing our part as well. In June, we announced grant competitions for $500 million in green jobs workforce training and received nearly triple the normal amount of applications.
I am working with Secretary Donovan to bring clean energy training to residents of public housing. The goal is to help residents take advantage of the promise of green jobs all while greening their homes and reducing their carbon footprint.
I am also partnering with Secretary Chu to award up to $27 million, including $10 million in Recovery Act funds, for the Solar Installer Instructor Training Network which will help train over 1,400 instructors and 168,000 solar workers.
Our goal must be a clean energy future that works for all Americans, so that we can pass on to our children and grandchildren not just a more sustainable economy, but a cleaner planet.
I have carried this message to miners in West Virginia, solar panel manufacturers in Tennessee, auto workers in Michigan, veterans in San Antonio, and youth in East Los Angeles. The message is clear –they want to seize the opportunity of a clean energy economy.
America will lead the clean energy economy of tomorrow because of the work, spirit and ingenuity of those I saw and the countless others committed to a clean energy future and the good jobs it will create for everyone.
Hilda Solis is Secretary of Labor