Senate Dems want to double size of solar training program for vets

Six Senate Democrats are asking their colleagues to double the capacity of a new Obama administration program that trains outgoing military personnel for the solar power industry.

Obama launched the program in April with a goal of expanding what started last year as a pilot program at three military bases to 10. It’s part of Obama’s goal of training 75,000 solar workers, including veterans, by 2020.

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The team of Senate Democrats like it so much they want it to expand. If they have their way, the Energy Department would get enough money to run the program at 20 military bases.

“Solar Ready Vets connects our nation’s skilled veterans to the solar energy industry, preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar related occupations,” the Democrats wrote to Sens. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderSenate committee vote on DeVos postponed Cheney calls for DeVos to be confirmed ‘promptly’ With Trump pick Tom Price, cool heads can prevail on health reform MORE (R-Tenn.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinJustice requires higher standard than Sessions Senate to vote Friday on Trump's defense picks Senate seeks deal on Trump nominees MORE (D-Calif.), the leaders of the Appropriations Committee panel that sets the Energy Department’s budget.

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“We strongly believe that a program with a proven record of employing veterans in high quality jobs in a fast growing industry critical to improving our energy independence and reducing carbon pollution is a worthwhile endeavor,” they said.

The senators did not say how much it would cost to double the size of the initiative.

Solar power is one of the fastest growing industries in terms of employment in the country, with 10 times the job growth of the rest of the economy, the federal government says.

The Energy Department estimates that one out of every 78 new jobs last year was in the solar power industry and that those jobs will grow 20 percent this year.