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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: Administration Announces Actions To Drive Growth In Solar Energy And Train Workers For Clean-Energy Jobs

The President is committed to addressing climate change and creating jobs by spurring the deployment of clean sources of energy. Since President Obama took office, solar electricity generation has increased 20 fold, doubling last year alone – just as the cost of solar has continued to fall as a result of investments in research and manufacturing innovation. The solar industry is adding jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy, creating a source of good paying American employment. To continue progress, the Administration is announcing actions to drive growth in the solar industry while also supporting our veterans.

Today’s announcements build on the strong progress made under President Obama to curb the emissions that are driving climate change and lead on the international stage. They will help set the U.S. on a path to achieve our target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025, which we submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) earlier this week.

To continue to reduce carbon pollution and create good paying American jobs, the President is announcing the following actions at Hill Air Force Base today:

  • Training 75,000 Solar Workers: The Department of Energy (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.
  • Launching a Solar Ready Vets Program: DOE, in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD), is launching a Solar Ready Vets program at 10 military bases across the country, including at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, which has already taken leadership by installing solar panels onsite. The program also includes participation from Camp Pendleton in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, and Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, all which announced pilot initiatives earlier this year and are serving as a model for the Solar Ready Vets program.
  • The Solar Ready Vets program will train transitioning military service personnel to enter the solar workforce by joining with SunShot’s Solar Instructor Training Network and leveraging the DOD’s Skillbridge transition authority authorized by Congress in 2012. Consistent with the Vice-President’s job-driven training agenda, the program is based on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers, is tailored to build on the technician skills that veterans have acquired through their service, and incorporates work-based learning strategies. Service members will learn how to size and install solar panels, connect electricity to the grid, and interpret and comply with local building codes. This accelerated training will prepare them for careers in the solar industry as installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations.
  • Utilizing the GI Bill for Solar Workforce Training: 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. Over time, this approval will enable more veterans across the country to use their GI Bill benefits to participate in this job-driven training program through local community colleges, where they will quickly learn the skills needed for good-paying jobs in the solar industry. Adding Solar Ready Vets will expand the existing network of programs providing service members and veterans opportunities to gain skills to enter the solar workforce through their GI Bill.
  • Educating Veterans and Service Members about Opportunities to Gain Solar Workforce Training:  The Department of Labor (DOL), will work with DOD to ensure that transitioning service members are made aware of solar workforce training programs available to them in their last months of military service.  In addition, to better serve unemployed veterans, DOL will partner with state workforce agencies and American Job Centers to better inform unemployed veterans about the opportunity to participate in available solar trainings. The Department of Labor in partnership with the Departments of Energy, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, is committed to facilitating a range of job and career opportunities for our transitioning service members and veterans.

Today’s Announcements Build On Progress To Deploy Solar Energy

Last year, the U.S. installed as much solar every three weeks as we did in all of 2008. In 2013 alone, the price of commercial and residential solar declined by more than 12 percent. This is driving more and more Americans to install solar panels at their homes and businesses, and is supporting tens of thousands of solar jobs across the country. With President Obama’s leadership, the Administration has already taken a number of actions to promote investment in and to deploy solar energy across the country. Examples of this progress in the last year alone include:

  • 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. 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. With these projects and more, DOD – the largest energy user in the Federal Government -- is making significant progress toward its target of deploying 3 gigawatts of renewable energy on its installations by 2025.   The Department plans to continue aggressively deploying renewable energy projects throughout this year: the Navy is aiming to contract 500 MW of renewable energy projects during 2015, the Air Force has more than 160 MW under development, and the Army plans to double its current capacity by deploying at least 75 MW of renewable electricity.
  • In March 2015, the President doubled down on his commitment to lead by example across the Federal Government to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change and invest in renewable energy, directing agencies to reduce their GHG emissions by 40 percent by 2025 and increase the share of renewable energy consumption to 30 percent. Since the President took office, Federal agencies have cut their emissions by 17 percent – the equivalent of taking 1.8 million cars off the road for one year -- and tripled the share of electricity coming from renewable sources.
  • In February 2015, the White House and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) hosted a roundtable with leaders from the finance and philanthropic communities to discuss opportunities to enhance solar financing for affordable housing.
  • In January 2015, HUD Secretary Castro, and Governor Brown of California announced a number of actions to expand financing for energy efficiency and solar energy in multifamily housing, including a California Multifamily Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Pilot and DOE funding to empower communities to deploy solar, which sets us on a track to reach the President’s goal of installing 100 megawatts of renewable energy across federally subsidized housing by 2020.
  • Last year, the Administration announced more than 350 private and public sector commitments to deploy more than 885 megawatts of solar—enough to power more than 130,000 homes—and cut energy waste in more than 1.4 billion square feet of buildings throughout the nation.  The President’s executive actions included investing $68 million in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in rural areas, supporting funding for clean energy and energy efficiency for affordable housing, strengthening building codes, and harnessing national service and volunteerism to tackle climate change. 
  • The Department of the Interior (DOI) is making progress towards achieving the Climate Action Plan goal of permitting enough renewable energy projects on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes.  Since President Obama took office, DOI has permitted 52 utility-scale renewable energy projects – including 29 solar projects – with a total capacity of over 14,000 megawatts.  If built as planned, these projects would provide more than 21,000 jobs and power more than 4 million homes.
  • In October 2014, the White House launched the Climate Action Champion competition, to identify and recognize local climate leaders and to provide targeted Federal support to help those communities further raise their ambitions. Following a competitive process led by the DOE, in December 2014, 16 Climate Action Champions, covering over 158 communities across the U.S., were selected by DOE due to their outstanding leadership in climate action, their initiation of constructive and replicable programs that often jointly address the challenges of climate mitigation and adaptation, their collaboration with their own communities, and their awareness that a changing climate requires decisive action, including Boston, MA; Dubuque, IA; Knoxville, TN, Minneapolis, MN, Montpelier, VT; Oberlin, OH; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Mid-America Regional Council; Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; Sonoma County, CA; Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact; Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe (CA); Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians (MI).
  • Salt Lake City, one of the Climate Action Champions, is spearheading solar development in Utah, including a 1 megawatt solar farm and a state-of-the art net-zero public safety building. The combined impact of these projects will reduce CO2 emissions Salt Lake City’s from municipal operations by three million pounds per year. To further decrease emissions, Salt Lake City just announced it will join the President’s Better Building Challenge today, committing to improve the energy efficiency of 1.6 million square feet of public and private buildings across the city over the next decade.